He said that garment factories maintain the highest standards and that there are no sweats shops in the country. "We have the highest caliber of human resources. Therefore, we have to concentrate on new technology, niche markets and products to be competitive in the post-Multi Fibre Arrangement era".
Minister Peiris also commended the efforts of the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) in appreciating the work and giving pride of place to the women providing their labour in these factories. Their services, until recently, went unnoticed.
Chairman SLAEA Ranjan Casiechetty said the JAAF, chaired by Past Chairman of SLAEA Ashroff Omar, is actively engaged in arriving at meaningful solutions to various issues affecting the industry.
He said the world economy grew by 2.8 per cent in 2002, enabling Sri Lanka's major trading partners to recover from their recent experiences. This, coupled with stability brought about by the peaceful environment in the country, resulted in a remarkable turnaround in the economy, which grew by four per cent from the negative growth recorded in 2001.
Although export turnover dropped in 2001 and 2002, the first half of 2003 has shown a turnaround with apparel export turnover increasing by 18 per cent over the corresponding period of the previous year.
Casiechetty said: "We must build upon this growth and ensure that we realise our stated turnaround goal of US$ 4.5 billion in 2007. Apparel exports continue to account for 53 per cent of the total export earnings of the country."
October 13, 2003