COLOMBO: The apparel exporters are advised to pay attention on the industry’s impact on the environment or ‘footprint’ and the chemical composition of its products in response to EU demands.
The industry's decision to specialize in the manufacture of intimate wear, lingerie and underwear is paying off and its markets share in Europe are increasing.
"Social accountability is increasing with issues like the use of child labour a concern for consumers largely because of media exposure," said Michael Scheffer, a European Union consultant to a group of apparel exporters.
One trend in the European market was the rise of ethical brands, specifically targeting ethical audiences, Sheffer said in a presentation on recent trends on EU trade and trade policy.
For example this may result in a consumer preference for jeans that only use organic cotton and only from certified factories, explained Scheffer, who was hired by the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF), the apex body for the industry which is one of the island's main foreign exchange earners and a big employer.
He advised the industry to be prepared to start reporting on the chemical composition of its products such as polymers and finishing, as it was an emerging trend. He urged the garments industry to take steps to assess its energy use and pollution.
Sri Lanka had early on realized the importance of specialization and now focused on products like intimate wear, lingerie, and underwear.
Sri Lanka was now in fifth position in EU imports in these categories of clothing and it was only a matter of months before it reached fourth place, dislodging Thailand, he said. In trousers, Sri Lanka was in ninth position.