The Joint Apparel Association Forum of Sri Lanka (JAAF) called for intensive dialogue and greater stakeholder collaboration in order to arrive to resolve the current forex crisis, as well as legislative reform towards a more sustainable medium-long-term trajectory for Sri Lankan apparel.
These views were expressed at the recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Association, the apex body representing five associations encompassing supply chain partners, the export-oriented apparel manufacturers, buying offices and representatives of international brands in Sri Lanka.
Addressing the gathering, newly appointed Chairman of JAAF and Deputy Chairman of MAS, Sharad Amalean commended the resilience demonstrated by the sector in the face of an unprecedented pandemic and outlined measures necessary for the sector to achieve its target of US$ 8 Bn. in exports by 2025, while maintaining GSP+ and enhancing bilateral trade.
“Once again, Sri Lankan apparel has delivered an outstanding performance, achieving over US$ 5 Bn. in exports last year amidst various challenges. While highly commendable, there are still many obstacles ahead of us. In order to successfully navigate these uncertain times, it is essential that all stakeholders act with unity, and continue to engage in dialogue with authorities on issues pertaining to foreign exchange and the adoption of regulations that can ensure sustainable growth for our vital industry,” Sharad Amalean stressed.
“We must also continue to enhance our bilateral trade by engaging with regional partners and associations to enhance trade relations. The securing of a GSP+ extension beyond 2023 will be absolutely critical for the growth of our industry,” he added.
Meanwhile, outgoing JAAF Chairman, A. Sukumaran noted that the industry would likely face continuing disruptions to their supply chain over the coming year, making the need for continuous engagement across industry stakeholders an essential pre-requisite to developing long-term solutions to the industry’s current and future challenges.
“The pandemic exposed underlying vulnerabilities in our extended global supply chains. However, we do not believe that right answer is to simply turn our backs to internationalization and build overlapping national supply chains – as had been advocated by certain quarters. Even with the current issues we face, the theory of comparative advantage within globalization is still a more financially viable approach. However, we also need to identify select areas in which development of domestic capacity can support Sri Lankan firms to effectively compete on a global stage, and ensure that such capacity development is expedited as much as possible,” he said.
“Investing in less transactional and more collaborative supply chain relations will provide major solutions. This forges more resilient supply chains that are also more capable of dealing with our industry’s numerous challenges. We have thrived with our buyers on long-lasting relationships. We must do the same thing with supply chains as well. Balance strategies are a must for us to sustain ourselves on the sourcing map,” he added.
The AGM saw the appointment of JAAF’s new executive committee for 2022/2023, which includes Chairman – Sharad Amalean, Deputy Chairmen – Saiffudeen Jafferjee and Felix Fernando, Past Chairmen – Noel Priyathilake, Azeem Ismail and Ashroff Omar.
Duly Authorized Representatives of the constituent bodies: Fabric & Apparel Accessory Manufacturers Association – Pubudu de Silva, Free Trade Zone Manufacturers Association – Jatinder Biala, Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association – Aroon Hirdaramani, Sri Lanka Chamber of Garment Exporters – Hemantha Perera and Sri Lanka Apparel Sourcing Association – Wilhelm Elias.
Other key appointments include individual members of the executive committee; Mahesh Hirdaramani, Manik Santiapillai, Ajith Wijesekera, Jafar Sattar, Anis Sattar, Rehan Lakhany and Mahika Weerakoon.
Meanwhile, Founding Secretary-General of JAAF, Tuli Cooray stepped down from his position and will serve as a consultant moving forward. He will be replaced by Industry veteran Yohan Lawrence, Past Chairman of the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association.
Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF):
The Joint Apparel Association Forum is the apex body which guides Sri Lanka apparel towards its ultimate goal of being the world’s number one apparel sourcing destination. JAAF represents five associations that cover supply chain partners, the export-oriented apparel manufacturers, buying offices and representatives of international brands in Sri Lanka.