Apparel; China, EU and India targetted | Sunday Observer

Apparel; China, EU and India targetted

Apparel exports: A model walks down the ramp at a recent fashion show organized by the Sri Lanka Apparel Brands Association in Colombo. The apparel industry plans to bring in additional export revenue of one billion dollars by 2019, with the help of the trade agreements with India and China and the GSP Plus trade access to the European Union, hopefully by next year. Pictures by vipula Amarasinghe

The apparel industry is hopeful of recording an additional one billion dollar turnover by 2019 catering to the three largest economies, the EU, India and China.

The industry is ‘very hopeful’ that the EU would agree to offer the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) plus facilities following this week’s negotiations with the EU by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe last week told the World Export Development Forum in Colombo that he was travelling to Brussels to begin talks on restoring GSP Plus.

“If the country is offered the GSP Plus facility it will be a ‘huge push’ for the growth of the industry,” Secretary General of Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF), Tuly Cooray told the Business Observer.

Although many of the manufacturing industries recorded a setback in the recent past, the apparel industry of the island was resilient and recorded a growth of 4%, Cooray said. “As an industry we have been very resilient and any further push will make us stronger,” he said.

Other than the EU market, the apparel manufacturers are quite hopeful of the success of ongoing preferential trade negotiations by the Lankan officials with China and India.

Cooray who is also an ‘observer’ of ETCA talks with India said, they expect India to ‘open’ apparel import market and do away with the current quota of 8 million given under the ISFTA.

“We believe that India will open market for us, if not they will definitely have something better for us under the ETCA,” he said.

On the other hand Sri Lanka and China have also put apparel market access on the top of the agenda in trade negotiation talks.

“From immediate responses, we gather, they (China) have offered us a much more flexible environment for apparel exports.

“And our future negotiations with China will ensure a favourable situation for the industry.”

“We are entering three huge consumer markets with EU, India and China, and this will help us increase out export revenue to USD 6 billion in 2019 from USD 4.7 billion this year,” he said. Sri Lanka submitted its application to the EU to regain its lost trade concessions, GSP plus, mid this year. A visiting EU delegation in January this year highlighted that it would take at least 10 months to regain the trade concessions.