Crisis in garments | Print Edition


Clothes. As soon as a thriving trade which led to the expansion of the village economic system with the emergence of 200 factories in 200 cities within the post-Nineteen Eighties period.

At present that trade is going through critical challenges affecting not solely financial progress in villages throughout the island but in addition crucial international change earnings.

Export orders have been lowered, factories are working beneath capability, some items have closed and stuck prices have gone up.

“That is the worst-ever scenario for the trade,” declared one garment industrialist, including that even in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic the trade was doing significantly better than right now.

In search of one other opinion on this situation, I known as Arthika, my nonsensical economist buddy also referred to as good-for-nothing Somey, on Thursday morning.

“Hello….have you ever been following the garment sector disaster?” I requested him.

“Fascinating, the truth is I learn a newspaper story on factories closing down for a brief interval after December and the relocation abroad of a number of the factories right here,” he stated.

“What did these studies say,” I requested.

“Nicely, they quoted an trade official as saying that round 20 per cent of the large-scale garment factories in Sri Lanka are closing down for a interval of as much as three months after December, whereas round 50 per cent of small and medium scale factories have already been closed,” he stated.

“Sure, there’s a widespread discount within the order books by abroad consumers, inflicting misery to the trade. No enchancment within the scenario and no mild on the finish of the tunnel,” I stated.

Corporations are downsizing, with workers being supplied VRS (Voluntary Retirement Scheme) packages. In some instances, staff have been requested to remain at dwelling underneath primary wage circumstances with out extra time and different advantages which they depend upon as month-to-month earnings.

What’s the primary drawback within the trade? A drastic discount in orders in Sri Lanka’s predominant markets. Some 80 per cent of garment exports are to the US, Europe and UK.

A recession in these markets, lowered shopping for energy and minimize in client spending on new garments are a few of these causes, whereas moreover wars in Palestine and Ukraine are additionally impacting the markets.

However the elephant within the room is the excessive price of manufacturing with energy prices being among the many highest within the area together with excessive water prices and now a rise in VAT from January 2024 to 18 per cent from 15 per cent.

“The IMF says there’s a want for price reflective pricing and this is applicable to energy tariffs however why can’t the CEB minimize its prices and move on that profit to the trade and the buyer,” requested the industrialist, including, “In right now’s economic system, sadly its survival of the fittest.”

Attire is Sri Lanka’s largest export, overtaking tea within the Nineteen Eighties and employs greater than 300,000 individuals. It earned US$5.9 billion in 2022, an increase from $5.4 billion in 2021. The significance of this sector is measured by the truth that 45 per cent of whole exports come from clothes.

Complete exports of clothes and textiles in the course of the 10-month interval from January to October 2023 have decreased by 20.50 per cent over the corresponding interval in 2022.

Month after month, orders have lowered. Export earnings for October 2023 fell by 20.09 per cent to $330.9.million from $414.15 million in the identical 2022 month.

Earnings decreased by 24.6 per cent y-o-y to $361.82 million in September 2023, in comparison with September 2022 whereas earnings from this sector in August 2023 fell by 23.06 per cent to $434.98 million in comparison with August 2022.

As I mirrored on these points, I used to be drawn by the margosa tree dialog the place the trio had gathered for his or her weekly chat. Paradoxically, it was on right now’s subject – clothes.

“Angalum karmanthaye weda karana magey yaluwanta prashna godak mae davas wala. Egollange geval kuli geva gannath bae. Anith viyadam dara gannath bae (My mates working within the garment sector are going through quite a lot of difficulties. They’re struggling to pay their lease and different prices),” stated Serapina.

“Ow, magey naede kenekge rassawa nethi wela. Eyath ekka weda karapu kattiyage padi kapala (Sure, considered one of my cousins misplaced her job whereas her colleagues are on lowered pay phrases),” famous Kussi Amma Sera.

“Ukreneyey saha Palasthinaye yudde balapala thiyenawada apey angalum karmanthayata (Are the wars in Ukraine and Palestine having some impression on this sector),” requested Mabel Rasthiyadu.

“Mama hithanney apita godak pita rata order nethi wela kiyala (I believe we’ve misplaced quite a lot of abroad orders),” added Serapina.

Within the 10-month January to October 2023 interval, general exports of clothes and textiles to the US decreased by 24.54 per cent whereas, exports to the EU (excluding exports to UK) additionally decreased by 18.84 per cent over the identical interval in 2022.  On the identical time, general exports to the UK and to different international locations even have decreased by 15.96 per cent and 16.45 per cent respectively over the identical interval within the 12 months 2022, in response to knowledge furnished by the Joint Attire Affiliation Discussion board (JAAF).

JAAF says that it expects a lower of round $1 billion on this 12 months’s attire and textile export earnings in comparison with final 12 months.

Whereas the clothes sector is going through critical issues, the excellent news this week was that the debt restructuring course of is getting underway with encouraging indicators from the Paris Membership of creditor international locations.

The Sri Lankan authorities introduced on Wednesday that it has reached an settlement in precept with its Official Creditor Committee (OCC-Paris Membership) on the monetary phrases of a debt remedy.

Issuing an announcement, the Ministry of Finance, Financial Stabilization and Nationwide Coverage said that the settlement in precept covers roughly $5.9 billion of excellent public debt and consists of a mixture of long-term maturity extension and discount in rates of interest. “The Sri Lankan authorities has counseled the help and cooperation of OCC members in reaching this settlement, which demonstrates a mutual dedication to restoring public debt sustainability in step with the Worldwide Financial Fund (IMF) programme targets,” the assertion stated.

This excellent news, nonetheless, gained’t have any constructive impression on the clothes trade and we’re heading for a interval of uncertainty within the sector beginning in January 2024.

As I wound up the column on a subject that impacts the typical particular person together with the likes of Kussi Amma Sera, Serapina and Mabel Rasthiyadu who’ve quite a few family and friends members working on this trade, I consider there’s a have to cuts prices beginning off with energy and vitality. The trade together with the federal government wants to organize a brand new recreation plan to sort out points on this very important sector, in any other case it might result in enormous job losses subsequent 12 months. has you coated with high quality used or model new vehicles on the market which are finances pleasant but dependable! Now’s the time to promote your outdated trip for one thing extra engaging to right now’s trendy automotive market calls for. Flick thru our choice of inexpensive choices now on earlier than deciding on what’s going to work greatest for you!

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