Apparel exports poised to top US $ 5bn mark for first time

    • November apparel exports up 10% to US $ 447mn
    • Modest export figures expected in December
    • Industry eyes 4% to 5% growth this year

    By Nishel Fernando

    As the apparel export growth picked up pace in November last year, the apparel industry expects to surpass the US $5 billion mark in 2018 for the first time, recording the best growth in apparel exports since 2013.

    According to the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF), apparel exports increased 10.10 percent year-on-year (YoY) to US $ 447.0 million in November 2018. The exports to the U.S. increased by 16.58 percent YoY while exports to the EU increased marginally by 3.01 percent YoY in the period. 

    The total exports during the January-November period grew 4.92 percent YoY to US $4.58 billion.

    “We expect over US $5 billion in apparel exports alone. We have in fact managed to arrest the downward trend which was there in 2018,  and we are gradually moving towards an upward trend from the downward trend,” JAAF, Secretary General Tuli Cooray told Mirror Business.

    Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association Chairman Felix Fernando expressed confidence that with the November export results, Sri Lanka will definitely be able to surpass the US $5 billion “magical figure for the first time in history.”However, he noted that industry stakeholders expect modest export figures for December.

    The cumulative apparel exports to the U.S. from January to November increased 5.61 percent YoY, surpassing US $2 billion while the exports to the EU increased 4.13 percent YoY to US $1.9 billion. Overall exports to other countries too increased 5.11 percent YoY.

    Speaking of industry targets for 2019, Cooray noted that the industry expects around 4-5 percent YoY growth in apparel exports for 2019. 

    “Our assumption is that there would be no hard Brexit and there will be a negotiated Brexit. On that assumption, our expectation is that we will grow by another 4-5 percent,” he said.

    However, Fernando emphasised that Sri Lanka has the potential to maintain at least 7 percent YoY growth in apparel exports while a 10 percent YoY growth would be ideal. 

    The apparel industry is expected to officially announce the 2019 apparel exports targets next month.





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