Enabling competitiveness is critical to ensuring an export-led economy: JAAF Chairman Sharad Amalean

  • Chairman of JAAF stresses need to create environment to facilitate ease of doing business
  • Reiterates confidence placed in Sri Lanka’s apparel sector to deliver
  • Emphasises that industry will have to be relevant to be competitive amidst a volatile economy
  • Calls for an increase in Sri Lanka’s ease of doing business

As a member of a high-powered stakeholder panel at the Chartered
Accountants Forum on ‘Economic Dialogue’: IMF and Beyond, Chairman of the Joint Apparel
Association Forum (JAAF) Sharad Amalean emphasized the importance of implementing policy
reforms that promote market competitiveness to sustain Sri Lanka’s export-led economy.
Amalean noted that despite the economic crisis and pandemic, the apparel industry maintained
the confidence of global buyers due to the country’s ability to continue operations during
challenging times. He added that the Government’s support in designating the industry as an
“essential service” during the pandemic was a crucial factor to creating that enabling
environment that instilled confidence.
With the apparel sector currently experiencing a 20-25% drop in orders, Amalean stressed it is
critical to create an environment that facilitates ease of doing exports, particularly given the
recent changes in the retail sector that have mostly impacted Small and Medium Enterprises
(SMEs). He emphasized the need to seize the opportunities presented by Sri Lanka’s
neighbours and create an environment for ease of doing business. He highlighted that the
gazette which supported the competitiveness of the export industry was recently repealed,
impacting the export sector negatively.
“There is a disruption in the retail trade and we must remain relevant,” stressed Amalean. “We
have to observe the possibilities around us. There is a dire need to liberalise shipping and
logistics and also create an environment for ease of doing business. Now that we have signed
the agreement with the IMF, let’s ensure we look through the window of opportunity to continue
elevating our status in the global apparel arena.”
In his keynote address, President Ranil Wickremesinghe stated that liberalizing trade is
essential to unlock Sri Lanka’s growth potential and to create a competitive economy. He
highlighted the need to modernize existing regulations that will eliminate impediments to private
investment, laying the groundwork for a highly competitive social economy in the next two
years. He also expressed the desire to upgrade the Free Trade Agreement with India for
economic and technical cooperation and join the regional comprehensive economic partnership.
The Chartered Accountants Forum on ‘Economic Dialogue’: IMF and Beyond had participation
of political representatives from the Government and opposition, business leaders and C-suite
executives from various industries who deliberated on the implementation and impact of the IMF
program, tax system improvements, reduce wasteful spending and combat corruption.

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