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EDB partners with Swiss SECO to launch GTEX2 to boost apparel industry

By: Staff Writer

July 05, Colombo (LNW): The Export Development Board (EDB) has partnered with the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs of Switzerland (SECO) to launch the second phase of the Global Program on Textile and Clothing (GTEX2), targeting the apparel sector in Sri Lanka.

This five-year initiative, running from 2024 to 2027, is funded by the Swiss Government and involves collaboration with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDCA) and the International Trade Centre (ITC). A National Project Coordinator (NPC) in Sri Lanka will oversee the implementation.

The program aims to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the textile and clothing industry by improving operational capacities, adhering to social and environmental standards, adding value to products and services, and expanding exports. Besides Sri Lanka, other participating countries include Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia.

Investment Promotion State Minister Dilum Amunugama highlighted the program’s potential to drive sustainable practices and enhance global competitiveness through advanced digital technologies.

He emphasized Sri Lanka’s strong, ethical, and sustainable textile and clothing industry, which generated over $4.8 billion in 2023, accounting for 42% of total merchandise exports. The sector, contributing 7% to the GDP, aims for an export revenue target of $8 billion by 2025.

Sri Lanka has led in sustainable manufacturing, implementing significant changes in processes, sourcing strategies, and product innovation. Ethical practices in the industry include the absence of child labor, forced labor, discrimination, and sweatshop conditions, earning the slogan “Garments without guilt.”

The industry is also notable for its environmental initiatives, with the world’s first custom-built green apparel factory, Asia’s first Carbon Neutral Certified factory, and numerous LEED-certified plants. Many factories pursue zero-carbon operations, zero-waste policies, and renewable energy investments.

The industry supports approximately 650,000 people, with 300,000 directly employed and another 350,000 indirectly supported, largely comprising rural women. The collaboration with SECO is seen as a significant step towards a more sustainable and digitally advanced textile and apparel industry in Sri Lanka.

EDB Chairman Dr. Kingsley Bernard expressed gratitude for the support from the Swiss Embassy and the Swiss Confederation.

He mentioned a comprehensive market research study facilitated by the Swiss Import Promotion Program (SIPPO) in 2022, which identified new market segments, product ranges, and sustainability impact areas for the Sri Lankan apparel industry. This success led to Sri Lanka’s inclusion in GTEX2.

Dr. Bernard expressed confidence that the program will contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction through sustainable trade and decent job creation along the textile and clothing value chain. He believes the initiative will provide the industry with motivation and guidance to realize its potential and achieve national targets.

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