Sri Lanka's clothing industry has quickly resumed normal operations in the aftermath of the tsunami disaster which killed more than 30,000 people along the Indian Ocean island's battered southern, eastern and northern shores.

The Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) said today that industry responses so far reveal that disruption of production was minimal, caused mainly by the absence of workers either due to displacement or for other reasons such as transport difficulties.

"A few factories suffered some physical damage but the industry overall remains resilient and strong in the face of adversity. This is good news given the fact that global apparel quotas were abolished with effect from the 1st of this month," the statement says.

It continues: "The industry's response to the tragedy was quick and decisive. The first effort was to assess the effect on its human resources by taking measures to locate the staff and providing them assistance where necessary.

"In the spirit of corporate social responsibility many companies quickly organised relief assistance individually and in liaison with relief agencies. Several of them have also set up special funds to support the rehabilitation needs of the affected communities."

Sri Lanka's apparel industry is responsible for 53 per cent of all foreign earnings, over 45 per cent of all industrial production, and employs directly or indirectly one in six of its entire working population.

JAAF says the industry has been overwhelmed by support from its overseas customers. "They have come forward to help the industry in particular and Sri Lanka in general by contributing to the relief effort and more importantly by assuring continuous business."