A group of Sri Lankan apparel makers are in the US this week to look at ways of doing more business with US textile companies.

The delegates, who are part of the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) headed by chairman Mahesh Amalean, will visit fabric manufacturers in North Carolina with a view to expanding the amount of US manufactured fabrics, yarn, cotton and accessories they use.

They are also hoping to identify US fabric manufacturers who may be interested in investing in fabric manufacturing facilities in Sri Lanka.

Less than 10 per cent of Sri Lanka's annual $1.2 billion textiles import trade is done with the United States. The island nation's officials would like to see it reach 25-30 per cent by 2007.

Sri Lanka also offers export market opportunities to countries elsewhere in the region.

Wellman Industries, Carolina Mills, Contrad Phyne, Pharr Yarns and Radicispandex are among the textile companies scheduled to meet with the Sri Lankan delegation.

The JAAF team will also visit Parkdale Mills and American & Efird Mills, as well as Burlington, Cone Mills, and Elastic Fabric Manufacturers.

Although the Sri Lankan apparel industry grew 16.7 per cent last year, it lacks the machinery and materials such as thread, yarn and fabric to boost output.

"What we see in North Carolina is its strong textile infrastructure," said Mahesh Amalean, chairman of MAS Holdings in Sri Lanka, whose customers include GAP, Banana Republic and Nike.

"The object is to see whether this is an opportunity for us to link up with American textile industries in the Carolinas."