COLOMBO, SRI LANKA (JANUARY 22, 2018):The Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association (SLAEA)recently concluded their 36th Annual General Meetingon the22nd ofJanuary 2018 at the Oak Room of the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo. This year featured some new appointments, namely,Mr. Rehan Lakhani, Chairman of Original Apparels (Pvt) Ltd. was elected as the Chairman; Mr. Shirendra Lawrence, COO of MAS Holdings (Pvt) Ltd. and Director of MAS Capital (Pvt) Ltd. was elected as the Deputy Chairman; and Mr. Colin Vose, COO of Crystal Martyn Ceylon (Pvt) Ltd. was appointed as the Treasurer.
Founded in 1982,SLAEA is the pioneer Association of the apparel export industry in Sri Lanka.The association continued to grow with representation of all key players in the industry participating as members of SLAEA’s executive council. After having merged with the National Apparel Exporters Association (NAEA), their current membership represents almost 85% of the total export earnings from the apparel industry.
Addressing the media, Mr. Felix A. Fernando,out-going Chairman of the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association was pleased to comment on theapparel industry’s focus on growth and its goal of achieving USD8 Billion in export revenue.He also stated that there is a visible development of the rural areas in Sri Lanka which has helped uplift the lives of the rural public in particular. With the incentives offered by the government, many new factories have now also been opened in the North and East, and are functioning successfully providing valuable opportunities to the youth in these conflict affected areas.
Mr.Rehan Lakhani, the incumbent Chairman of the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association was pleased to deliver his first address, highlighting points relating to policy agenda of the Government of Sri Lanka, “We will continue to impress upon our government the need to continue the trade policy agenda that we have begun, because we are relying on a global platform. On the domestic front, we we are faced with the challenge of overcoming a number of serious issues, namely the SLPA tariff increase, new Shipping policy draft, new procedure for monitoring of export proceeds, and the non-issuance of export releases.”
As the SLAEA serves on many statutory and non-statutory Boards and Committees, Chambers and Associations connected with the apparel industry,their contribution to the formulation and implementation of major strategies and decisions affecting the industry has been significant. The members of the Association were also felicitated for their great contribution to the development of the apparel sector which over the past year which has been ranked as the lead export industry of Sri Lanka.
According to the SLAEA, the Sri Lankan Apparel Industry aspires to have an ambitious target of USD 8 billion in export turnover by 2025. In order to achieve the 2025 target an annual average compound growth of about 6% is required.This is higher than the actual rate that was achieved in 2018. As the traditional market is more or less static, the group mentioned that the Sri Lankan apparel industry needs to penetrate into emerging markets such as India, China and Brazil.
Another highlight of the AGM was the announcement of the launch of a new campaigned titled, Matai Mage Ratataiinitiated bySLAEA in partnership with the Joint Apparel Association Forum(JAAF) and the Export Development Board. JAAF is the APEX industry body that hasdriventransformation in the way apparel manufacturers operate – with responsibility, conscience and care. The objective of this campaign is to eliminate the negative stereotypes associated with the female employeeswho work in apparel factories.
These negative stereotypes have resulted in a sharp decline amongst the factory workforce across the apparel industry. Being thelargest export earner in Sri Lanka bringing in US$ 5 billion,SLAEA together with its partners and support from the entire apparel industry hopes that this campaign will showcase the positive ripple effects to our economy, which would not be possible without this hardworking female workforce. Thus, the objective of the Matai Mage Ratatai campaign is to empower these women to see the value of the employment opportunity offered and also to recognize their immense contribution to our country’s economy.