Apparel trade between Sri Lanka and China is slated to receive fresh boost with the two nations having entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to uplift the sector that was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a bid to pledge closer cooperation, China National Textile and Apparael Council entered into an agreement with Sri Lanka’s Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) this month.
The key objectives of the MoU are to strengthen the working relationship between the two associations to promote value chain cooperation in the two countries, increase mutual visits, promote exchanges, and improve mutual trust among industry personnel.
The effort was initiated by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Beijing, JAAF Chairman A. Sukumaran, and China National Textile and Apparel Council Vice President XuYingxin.
According to Ambassador Dr. Palitha Kohona, the MoU will pave the way for China to become a key importer of Sri Lanka’s high-end apparels. “China is a huge and potential consumer market with a 700 mn plus middle class. It could become the next key market for Sri Lanka’s world-renowned apparel,” Dr. Kohona stressed during the online signing event.
The Ambassador also invited investors from China to explore opportunities in investing in Sri Lanka’s upcoming textile park in Eravur.
“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,” Dr. Kohona said. JAAF Chairman Sukumaran acknowledged the MoU is timely for Sri Lanka with the local apparel sector, which is largely independent, having faced the worst in the year 2020 due to the global pandemic. He shared in 2020, Sri Lanka’s apparel exports showed a decline of over 20 percent as exports dropped to over $4 bn.
However, he said the industry is confident it will recover in the next couple of years particularly as sectors, as casual, sports and leisure are a large part of the mix of products Sri Lanka manufactures. Due to the pandemic, China witnessed an increase in demand for industrial textiles, especially non-woven products, resulting in sharp increase in output. In 2020, China’s total textile and apparel exports reached $291.22 bn, a year-on-year increase of 9.6 percent.
Apparel and textile trade between China and Sri Lanka has expanded over the last three years and in 2019, the total textile and apparel trade between the two countries reached $1.24 bn.