The Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association said that 250Mn US$ of the 500Mn US$ that is received for local apparel exports are lost to the country because the necessary material like thread, dyes and cloth have to be imported.
However, keeping in mind the economic crisis faced by the nation, the apparel industry has been declared an essential service and factories are allowed to remain open during the quarantine curfew.
The second Covid-19 wave erupted from within the garment factories last October.
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The Joint Apparel Association Forum issuing a press release stated that all measures are been taken to ensure a safe and secure workplace for their employees.
However, speaking to BBC, Anton Marx of the Free Trade Zones and Public Service Union stated that they regard the JAAF statement as a “self-congratulatory pat in the back by themselves, for sacrificing their employees”. He added that the spread of Covid-19 among the garment factory workers is high.
Employees paid less than Rs. 1,000
Marx further stated no government has yet attempted to create safe boarding places for apparel sector workers and that the daily wage of a garment factory worker is often less than Rs. 1,000.
Sri Lanka’s export revenue from the apparel sector was US$ Mn 5,307.80 in 2019. While it dropped to US$ Mn 4,155.99 in 2020, the exports in 2021 are higher in comparison to the previous year.
This is a 6% contribution to the Gross Domestic Product and is 40% of all exports.