Sri Lanka apparel sector needs GSP plus: workers

Nov 12, 2009 (LBO) – Claims that alternative markets can be found if Sri Lanka loses European Union trade concessions are a ‘joke’ and if human rights are violated the state should take corrective action, apparel sector trade unions have said. The EU has threatened to withdraw access granted to Sri Lanka under its Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus scheme, which ensures a series human, political and civil rights for citizens of the recipient country.

“The European Union (EU) and the US are Sri Lanka’s major export markets and trying to find alternative markets to this is a joke,” Palitha Atukorale of the Progress Union of Sri Lankan Apparel Workers told reporters in Colombo.

“For the healthy continuation of the apparel industry the GSP Plus is very important.”

The EU is a key market for Sri Lanka, especially apparels which has emerged as the country’s largest industrial export.

Though countries like China have supported Sri Lanka in other issues, workers say the situation is different with exports.

“In the past China and other countries supported Sri Lanka,” Anton Marcus of the Free Trade Zones and General Service Employees Union said.

“We can’t expect them to do the same regarding GSP Plus as these cou