Apparel revenue target possible despite lockdown

  • Sector sets $ 5.1 b revenue target for 2021

  • Industry expects swift normalisation of local activities

  • Manufacturing plants in talks with health authorities to reopen


The Sri Lankan apparel exports industry affirmed that the targeted export earning forecast of $ 5.1 billion for 2021 will be maintained regardless of the prevailing disruptions caused by the new wave of Covid-19.

Speaking to The Morning Business, Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters’ Association (SLAEA) Past President Yohan Lawrence stated that the apparel industry is only slightly below in achieving the targeted forecast of $ 5.1 billion for 2021 apparel exports.

“We are just into the second quarter of the year and we are confident that things will get back to normal fairly soon,” Lawrence assured.

He further stated that although there is some disruption to the operations due to several areas being isolated at the moment, the industry will maintain the initial target of $ 5.1 billion for apparel exports.

SLAEA and JAAFSL, however, suggested that it is still too early to decide the outcome of the recent surge of the coronavirus. Most of the apparel manufacturing operations were reported to have closed down in April.

“Currently, the plants are working closely with the health authorities to ensure that all possible precautions are being taken to ensure the safety of our employees at this time,” Lawrence stated, adding that the plants are working with the authorities to also see how they can safely get back to the full level of operation.

On another note, during a previous interview, State Ministry of Batik, Handloom, and Local Apparel Dayasiri Jayasekara stated that adverse threats that can emerge from the third wave to the apparel industry are not expected.

It was also expressed that the State Ministry believes that precautions to safeguard the apparel industry against a possible event of another Covid-19 wave is unnecessary, as islandwide lockdowns or curfews are not expected.

In the meantime, export performance of textile and apparel exports rounded up to $ 3,938 million in 2020 in comparison to the $ 5,205 million in 2019. Currently, the export performance of the textile and apparel sector stands at $ 1,218 million so far for 2021.

The main partners that have a demand for Sri Lankan textile and apparel exports are the US (43.14%), the UK (14.23%), Italy (8.69%), Germany (6.14%), Belgium (4.59%), the Netherlands (3.73%), Canada (2.87%), Australia (1.55%), France (1.89%), China (1.51%), India (0.94%), Japan (1.12%), Sweden (1.06%), and other (8.55%).

According to the SLAEA website, the apparel industry has also set an annual export target of $ 10 billion by 2025 while expanding to regional markets.

“We have set our own target of $ 10 billion by 2025 and continue to be a strong player not only in rural Sri Lanka, but regionally and globally as well,” SLAEA Chairman Saif Jafferjee said at the apex body’s annual general meeting (AGM).

Apparel revenue target possible despite lockdown