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Sri Lanka unlikely to benefit from Bangladesh apparel industry accidents: expert


19:45, May 13, 2013

COLOMBO, May 13 (Xinhua) -- Despite multiple apparel industry accidents in Bangladesh it is unlikely that Sri Lanka, a neighboring competitor, will see an increase in its revenues from retailers preferring to switch to better labor standards, experts said here on Monday.

The social situation in Bangladesh will not provide additional benefit to the Sri Lankan apparel industry as higher labor cost proves to be a significant deterrent for global retail companies seeking low expenses.

Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association Chairman Yohan Lawrence told media that the industry has not seen any changes as a result of the situation in Bangladesh so far and is likely to not see any difference due to the price point differentiation.

"We have no competition with the price point offered in Bangladesh," Lawrence said. "Unless the end customer is willing to pay more, I do not see any immediate shifts to our markets in the near future."

Bangladesh is known for its cheap labor as opposed to Sri Lanka and entered 2013 with a firm footing as the world's second largest garment exporter, according to the World Trade Organization.

"Buyers would have already contracted orders through to winter 2013," Lawrence said. "If there is to be any change to buying strategies that may take some time to filter through."

The general value of Sri Lankan export of apparel has fallen, he said, largely due to struggling economic conditions in the U.S. and Europe, which are the top markets.

Latest data released by the Central Bank showed a 1.3 percent increase for the first quarter of the year, climbing to 1,050 million U.S. dollars from 1,036 million U.S. dollars for the same period in 2012.

Apparel is Sri Lanka's largest foreign exchange earner recording 4 billion U.S. dollars in 2012.

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