July 31, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lankan exporters have urged the government not to allow the rupee to appreciate as it would erode their competitiveness. Exporters’ Association chairperson Nirmalie Samarathunga said they were bracing for the loss of duty free market access to Europe after a trade deal with the European Union ends in August.
Speaking at the association’s annual general meeting, she urged exporters to look at new markets in India and China as demand from traditional Western markets was slowing down.
The EU has refused to extend the GSP trade deal from mid-August citing allegations of human rights abuses, charges rejected by the Sri Lankan government.
Sri Lankan exporters fear losing markets as the loss of duty free access will make their products more expensive than those of rival exporting countries.
Samarathunga said the loss of the GSP deal would be a serious setback for exporters at a time when demand had reduced owing to global recession.
She said that with exporters greatly dependant on international markets, making them vulnerable to external shocks, there was a “need to act fast to address key issues fac