• The Sri Lankan textile and apparel industry is a pivotal driver
in employment, utilizing 15% of work labor available.
• 85% of this workforce are women.
• It contributes 39% to industrial production while representing
43% of total export value over the late 2000's.
• Over the past two decades since its arrival into mainstream
export production the country has strategically developed a
skill base in research, design and innovation accounting for
top quality manufacturers.
• The sector also maintains high ethical standards and remains
continuously commended for its clean bill on compliance and
decent labor practices against its counterpart manufacturing
• Sri Lanka is among the top apparel-producing countries in
the world relative to its population
• It is considered as Sri Lanka’s number one foreign exchange
• The industry provides over 300,000 direct employment
opportunities and 600,000 indirect in Sri Lanka.
• Today, the garment industry occupies a pre-eminent position
in Sri Lanka.
• Sri Lanka's major producers service some of the biggest
apparel brands in the world such as Nike, Victoria's Secret,
Ann Taylor and Marks and Spencer.
• The United States is the main importer of textile goods
from Sri Lanka, accounting for 76% in total.
• Sri Lanka is ranked 12th among the top apparel exporters
to the United States in terms of value.
• The local industries were protected by the government
intervention under the industrial policy in 1950s.
• However, Textile and Wearing Apparel industry was not
even included as a category of exports in national
accounts in early 1950s (Central Bank Reports).
• In the 1960s and early 1970s the existence of a well-run
Textile industry was evident that was underpinned by the
government intervention following an import substitution
• After the introduction of open economic policies in 1977
the outlook of the industry was totally changed within an
• Since the late 1970s the industry gradually acquired the
relative importance of traditional agricultural exports
• began to grow significantly in the 1980s
• The total industrial exports account for approximately
77% of the total exports while textile and Wearing
Apparel industry solely accounts for 67% of industrial
• As an alternative to India's garment manufacturers, because
of its open economic policy as well as the trade and
investment friendly environment
• Under the Multi Fiber Agreement, quota regime Sri Lanka
became an attractive new venue for businesses
• In 1985, Martin Trust, one of the pioneers in the
development of “speed sourcing” for the American fashion
retail sector, began working with Sri Lankan textile and
• In 1986 and 1987 he established joint venture partnerships with
The Omar Group (formerly known as LM Apparels and part of
the Brandix group) and The Amalean Group which helped
make the country more competitive through knowledge
transfers and technology, attracting further foreign investors
Distribution of Textile and
Wearing Apparel Industry 16
• Textile and Wearing Apparel industry contributes for
21.2% of the total number of all industrial establishments
in the country.
• Thirty percent of the establishments in the Western
province belong to Textile and Wearing Apparel Industry.
• The large scale establishments in Textile and Apparel
industry are converged in the Colombo and Gampaha
districts while the small and medium scale establishments
represent a scattered pattern in distribution.
• It showed number of employees in different categories as a
percentage of the number of employees in all industrial
• The proportion of female operatives in the Textile and Wearing
Apparel industry is very significant.
• 62% of the female operatives in the industrial sector work for
the Textile and Wearing Apparel industry.
• It is obvious that the number of females in all employee
categories exceeds the proportion of male employees in the
• The gap between two sexes is much higher with operatives.21
• In terms of the nature of the employees, Textile and
Wearing Apparel industry accounts for
o47% of skilled laborers
o34% of un-skilled laborers
o31% administrative workers
o41 % of technical workers
o20% of clerical workers
o35% of other workers
of the total employees in industrial sector.
Sri Lanka's Competitive
Advantages in the Garment
• A well established, export oriented manufacturing
• A ready supply of raw material and an expanding
• A literate, trainable workforce.
• Geographical location & infrastructure advantages.
• Compliance with the best international labor and
environmental laws and practices. 24
• Market and investor friendly policies of the government.
• An array of attractive incentives extended for the
• Unlimited quota free access to the EU markets.
• Preferential access to Indian market including duty-free
concessions provided by the Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
between Sri Lanka and India.
• MAS Group
• Brandix Group
• EAM Maliban Textile (Pvt) Ltd
• Smart Shirts Lanka (Pvt) Ltd
• Sirio Ltd
• Polytex Garments Ltd
• Crystal Martin Group
• Hirdaramani Group
• Courtaulds Clothing Lanka (Pvt) Ltd
• Omegaline (Pvt) Ltd 26