Despite media reports declaring a state of emergency in Sri Lanka following the president's decision yesterday to sack three government ministers, suspend parliament, and deploy troops around the capital, it's business as usual for the clothing industry.

According to Shirendra Lawrence, managing director, Courtaulds Clothing Lanka (Pvt) Ltd: "Life is carrying on as normal, business is carrying on as normal. From a business point of view nothing has been affected, and there is nothing to suggest anything will be affected."

The dispute broke out after a disagreement between political arch-rivals President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesing over the direction of the country's peace process. But both sides say they are determined the current dispute will not affect the20-month old ceasefire with Tamil Tiger rebels.

"Yes, it's concerning," Mr Lawrence continued, "but the pictures carried on the news don't necessarily portray the picture in Colombo, only around certain buildings.

"But naturally we have to wait and see how this thing pans out and the next week or so is going to be interesting."

Sri Lanka's textile and clothing industry has recorded stellar growth over the past 25 years - even though it was dogged by a 20-year long civil conflict with Tamil Tiger rebels.

The industry enjoys a position as the country's biggest industrial employer, directly providing jobs for 338,000 workers, and its number one export earner. International customers include Victoria's Secret, Next, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, C&A, Abercrombie & Fitch, Liz Claiborne, Gap, Polo Ralph Lauren and Marks & Spencer.

By Leonie Barrie