Following an initiative taken by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Beijing, Vice President of China National Textile and Apparel Council Xu Yingxin and Chairman of Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) of Sri Lanka A. Sukumaran signed a memorandum of cooperation online on 20 January 2021 on behalf of their respective associations. Sri Lankan Ambassador to China Dr. Palitha Kohona witnessed the signing ceremony.
The online signing event was coordinated by Minister of the Embassy of Sri Lanka Alexi Gunasekera, Secretariat, JAAF M P Tuli Cooray, Secretariat, JAAF Yohan Lawrence, Deputy Secretary-General of the China National Textile and Apparel Council Yuan Hongping, Director General of the Commerce Department Ananda Dharmapriya, and Director -General of the Sri Lanka Export Development Bureau Chitranjali Dissanayake attended the event.
This event was the first MOU signing since Dr. Palitha Kohona assumed office as Ambassador in Beijing in December.
Vice President Xu Yingxin first explained the current status of China’s textile industry, the economic condition affecting China’s textile industry in 2020, and the trade and investment state of China’s textile industry.
He said that in 2020, due to the impact of the epidemic, industrial textiles, especially non-woven products, have seen an expansion of demand resulting in sharp increase in output. With the resumption of work, China’s economy has steadily improved, and the consumer market has continued to pick up. In 2020, China’s total textile and apparel exports reached US$291.22 billion, a year-on-year increase of 9.6%.
He further stated that China -Sri Lankan textile and apparel trade has shown an increase in the past three years. In 2019, the total textile and apparel trade between the two countries was US$1.24 billion.
Chairman Xu also mentioned that China Textile Federation has been implementing the “One Belt and One Road” initiative and is committed to helping Chinese textile and garment enterprises expand trade, investment and exchanges with countries around the world.
Highlighting the fact that Sri Lanka has a number of high-quality garments export oriented enterprises, he hoped that the China Textile Federation and JAAF will work together to promote value chain cooperation in the two countries, strengthen mutual visits, promote exchanges and mutual trust among industry personnel.
President of the Sri Lanka Garment Association Forum A Sukumaran said that the association is the apex institution in the textile and garment industry in Sri Lanka and maintains close communication and contact with government departments and guides Sri Lanka apparel towards its ultimate goal of being the world’s number one apparel sourcing destination.
He said, Today Sri Lanka Apparel is the single largest contributor to the industrial exports of the country, recording a turnover of US 5.6 billion in 2019. The industry employs over 350,000 people, directly and touches the lives of over a million Sri Lankans. This Industry represents a 7% contribution to the country’s GDP and 47% of its exports and have a value addition locally of over 55%. This, had been achieved through the setting up of supply arrangements through members of Fabric and Apparel Accessories Manufacturers Association /FAAMA-and also through the industry offering its customers high value-added solutions such as, innovation design and product development within Sri Lanka.
Further he said Like the rest of the world COVID19 has had its impact on the Sri Lankan economy and the apparel industry. For the year 2020, Sri Lanka’s apparel exports show a decline of over 20% as our exports dropped to just over US$ 4 billion. He further said the industry is confident that it will recover in the next couple of years particularly as sectors like casual, sports and leisure are a big part of the mix of products that Sri Lanka manufacturers.
Commenting on the MOU he said, it is an exceptional landmark and thanked the Sri Lankan Embassy in China for their efforts and involvement in orchestrating this event.
He Further highlighted the fact that Sri Lanka has many large-scale high-quality garment processing enterprises, and the most part of their fabrics needs is imported from China.
The new Sri Lankan Ambassador to China, Dr. Palitha Kohona, said that it was a great privilege to be associated with this event barely a month after he assumed duties.
China is a huge and potential consumer market and with a 700 million plus middle class. It could become the next key market for Sri Lanka’s world-renowned apparel.
Sri Lanka is an important hub in the Maritime Silk Road, with its unique geographical advantages and the government’s policy under “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendor”, will become a sought-after investment destination.
The ambassador highlighted that the Government of Sri Lanka is currently in the process of establishing an industrial zone dedicated to textile manufacturing at Eravur in the Eastern Province. Further elaborating on the Fabric Park, he said the objective of establishing this Textile Zone / Fabric Park is to set up a raw material base for the apparel industry to facilitate availability of raw material readily to increase capacity to, utilize the preferential facilities and to improve competitiveness of the garment sector. He invited CNTAC to encourage Chinese Direct Investment to the initiative that will generate substantial, employment in Sri Lanka.
Further he said that Sri Lanka has a reputation for being a high-quality apparel manufacturer with a solid, international customer base. It also complies with international labour and good governance standards, has a skilled and trainable labour force and is in a position to provide competitive pricing, on time delivery and be a manufacturer for premium brands and well-known for supplying “Garments without guilt”.
On a closing note, he said now that the foundation has been laid by signing the MOU, JAAF, CNTAC and Sri Lanka Embassy in China will work together to promote the healthy cooperation between the industries in both countries. He hoped that the two sides can realize this through mutual consultation under the strategic framework of the “Belt and Road” strategy.
Deputy Director, International Liaison Dept. CCPIT TEX Shelley Shan, Senior Project Manager, International Liaison Dept. CCPIT TEX Joy Jin, Senior Project Manager, Trade and Investment Promotion Dept. Rosa Xue and Commercial Assistant of Embassy Jessica Han also participated at the event.