Sri Lankan apparel exports are likely to receive a significant boost through a European Union (EU) decision to allow the sourcing of fabric from Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia as the industry aims to hit $ 5 billion in earnings this year, a top official said yesterday.
Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association Chairman Felix Fernando, speaking at the 35th Annual General Meeting, which was also attended by Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, noted that the industry was “grateful” and “delighted” by the restoration of GSP+.
“To maximise the use of GSP+, SLAEA with JAAF requested the Department of Commerce to explore the possibilities of indentifying the possibility of making a joint request to the EU between Sri Lanka and selected ASEAN countries to agree on cross regional accumulation for fabric. We reliably understand that the EU has agreed to grant this benefit and we have selected Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia to start with. It is our sincere wish that the Government will support this effort as it will give a huge advantage to apparel exporters,” he told the gathering.
From 2004 to 2011 apparel exports grew by 50% but over the last six years they have stagnated due to the loss of GSP+, noted Fernando. However, in July, August and September 2017 exports have been robust and it is clear that GSP+ is having an effect. Overall exports are expected to surpass the $ 5 billion mark for the first time due to the boost given by preferential access to the European Union, predicted Fernando. As the industry will have GSP+ for the full year of 2018, an additional increase is expected.
“With the uncertainties around Brexit, Sri Lankan authorities need to talk with their UK counterparts as we are not sure if both parties will continue to provide the same trade facilities. Due to these uncertainties it is imperative that we consider other EU countries, especially Germany, where our presence is limited.”
He also called for assistance to link Sri Lanka’s apparel industry with the fashion and import industries in Germany to boost engagement and increase exports.
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