World Class Apparel Industry seeks to source from World Class Fabric Suppliers

Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) welcomes initiatives by Sri Lankan Apparel Manufacturers

A Business Promotion Mission to North Carolina undertaken by Sri Lanka Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) was successfully concluded forging business links with U.S. yarn and fabric manufactures. The JAAF Mission, which visited major textile centres such as Charlotte, Raleigh and Greensboro, was able to establish business contacts with a wide cross section of US fabric, yarn and thread manufacturers. They also had extensive discussions with two major textile technology and human resource development institutions in the United States, namely North Carolina Centre for Applied Textile Technology (NCCATT) and North Carolina State University College of Textiles with a view to establish close cooperation with these institutions to avail of specialized services offered by them.

The Business Promotion Mission, led by Mr. Mahesh Amalean, Chairman of MAS Holdings Ltd, Chairman, JAAF Sub Committee on Human Resource Development/Technology Advancement Initiatives and Member, National Commission for Economic Development (NCED), comprised of leading apparel and textile products exporters such as Mr. Janak Hirdaramani, Director of Hirdaramani Group, the oldest apparel company in Sri Lanka, Mr. Feroz Omar, Managing Director of Kuruwita Industries Ltd., a dying and finishing company in Sri Lanka, Mr. Channa Palansuriya, Managing Director, of Orit Apparels Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., a division of Johns International and Mr. Anupam Agrawal, General Manager of Ishin Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., a spinning company.

Sri Lankan apparel exporters met with US fabric manufacturers in Charlotte at a kick off meeting held at the North Carolina Centre for Applied Textile Technology (NCCATT) Belmont, on September 13th 2004. The meeting was attended by Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC), Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the U.S. H.E. Mr. Devinda R. Subasinghe, Mr. David Spooner, Special Textile Negotiator, Office of the United States Trade Representative, (USTR), Dr. James L. Lemons, President of NCCATT, Mr. Stephen Dobbin, the National Council of Textile Organizations and Mr. George Thomas, United States State Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration.

Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC), welcoming the delegation to North Carolina, said that the Mission will “open new and profitable business opportunities for both U.S. textile industry and Sri Lanka apparel industry.” She assured her support and assistance to develop two-way trade between North Carolina and Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the U.S. Devinda R. Subasinghe explainined Sri Lanka’s trade policy, saying that “Sri Lanka, which is heavily dependent on international trade, is committed to free and fair trade practices.” He added that Sri Lanka is “moving to build partnerships with the U.S. administration, Congress and the business community”, emphasising that U.S. companies can take advantage of Sri Lanka’s open and liberal trade and business environment not only to develop trade with the island but also to use it as a platform to penetrate the vast Indian subcontinent.

USTR’s David Spooner, noted the JAAF Business Promotion Mission’s visit to North Carolina as an opportunity to explore the prospects for sourcing fabric from the U.S. and said that “Sri Lanka, which understands that trade is a two-way street, is a good player in international trade.” He expressed his hope that the visit of Sri Lankan companies to North Carolina would be beneficial in terms of education as well as business opportunities.

Mr. Mahesh Amalean, leader of the Sri Lanka Business Promotion Mission explaining the purpose of the visit, said that they undertook the mission to North Carolina looking for business opportunities to source raw material from a world class textile industry to meet the requirement of a world class apparel manufacturing facilities in Sri Lanka. He invited U.S. fabric manufacturers to forge business ties with Sri Lankan apparel manufacturers to take advantage of the $ 1.2 billion untapped market, which is expected grow up to $ 2.5 billion by year 2010.

Mr. Stephen Dobbins of the National Council of Textile Organizations recalling that Sri Lanka had taken the leadership in requesting longer transitional period for phasing out quotas during the Uruguay Round Negotiations said that his organization values international partnerships with countries like Sri Lanka, which is committed to free and balanced trade.

The delegation had business discussions with the representatives of Wellman Industries, Carolina Mills, Radici Spandex, who were present at the meeting. These companies displayed a wide range of yarn and fabric products manufactured by them at the NCCATT for the visiting Sri Lankan apparel exporters to view them. Sri Lanka Mission also had the opportunity to tour the facilities to view textile equipment and laboratories at the NCCATT and learn about the technology and human resource development programme offered by the Centre.

In Gaston County the Mission visited Parkdale Mills Inc., world’s largest yarn producer, R.L. Stowe Mills, a leader in the manufacture of industrial sewing threads and American & Efrid Mills and had business discussions on trade and investment opportunities in Sri Lanka.

In Raleigh visiting Sri Lankan apparel exporters visited North Carolina State University, Textile College and had extensive discussions with the faculty members to learn more about the North Carolina State University College of Textile and to share Sri Lankan apparel industry issues and concerns regarding production, sourcing raw material and marketing finished products. The meeting also provided an opportunity to identify College of Textile as a potential source for research, product management processes, partnerships with suppliers and technology development. The Mission also discussed the possibility of signing a MOU between North Carolina State University and Sri Lanka Institute of Textile Technology. The purpose of the MOU is to facilitate academic exchanges in the areas of education, research and extension through exchange faculty, scholars, students as well as, educational research and extension materials appropriate to textile technology collaboration. The delegation also had the opportunity to tour the College of Textile Facilities including apparel production, digital design, body scanning and laboratories developing new technology for non-woven fabrics to receive a hands-on perspective of the industry.

In Greensboro, the mission had meetings with major textile fabric manufacturers namely Elastic Fabrics of America, a leading manufacturer of wide dyed and finished elasticized fabrics and the largest electrometric wrap knitter Burlington Industries, a leading woven fabric manufacture and, Cone Mills, the largest denim producer in the U.S. The visiting apparel exporters discussed their sourcing requirements, exchanged ideas on existing and new products introduced by these knit and woven fabric manufacturers and ways and means to overcome obstacles to expand fabric imports from the US to Sri Lanka.

The business promotion mission also visited Sara Lee Branded Apparel in Winston-Salem, which has set up a joint venture in Sri Lanka for product development and designs. At Sara Lee, the mission had the opportunity to learn more about new branded products introduced by Sara Lee and to meet the Sri Lanka sourcing team to discuss possible business opportunities for expanding apparel exports from Sri Lanka.

As a follow up to the Business Promotion Mission, plans are underway to organize a business delegation from North Carolina textile industry to visit Sri Lanka in December this year, which will be organized in collaboration with Gaston County Economic Development Commission, North Carolina Centre for Applied Textile Technology, and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

17 September 2004

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