The apparel industry is encouraging the Government to expedite formalities for the establishment of a dedicated textile processing zone.

“With the assistance of Joint Apparel Association Forum Sri Lanka (JAAFSL), we have been lobbying to the Board of Investment (BOI) to provide us with a land extent of around 200 acres to setup a dedicated textile processing zone, which is useful for the industry in scaling up to next heights,” Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters of Association Chairman Rehan Lakhany said.

According to him the regional accumulation and need for speed to market has created a huge requirement in the industry at present for such dedicated zone.

“Apparel is by far our biggest export to the European Union. Given that the Rules of Origin under GSP+ requires fabric to be sourced from Sri Lanka or from an area that qualifies for regional accumulation in order to qualify for GSP Plus, there is an increase in demand for fabric sourced from Sri Lankan fabric mills,” he pointed out.

In addition he pointed out that Sri Lanka was an ideal model for speed to market given its strategic geographical location. “Sri Lanka is gaining a reputation from customers due to our strategic maritime location to supply fast-track exports. Customers are looking at Sri Lanka for reliability, quality and quick response, but for that it is important to have a dedicated textile facility in the country,” he said out.

Lakhany said the industry was optimistic of bringing down top apparel manufacturing companies to the proposed dedicated zone given that Government provided the land, water and electricity. “We have been discussing with potential companies for water purification plants and these investments could be established as joint ventures,” he added.

Noting that the GSP+ scheme encouraged increased value addition within Sri Lanka, he said it thereby promoted backward integration, resulting in the setting up of new industries and creating new employment opportunities in the country. Accordingly the proposed textile zone could have factories ranging from woven manufacturing, knitted manufacturing, dyeing and finishing.