August 26, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is trying to clinch a free trade deal with Canada to push its apparel exports, with the industry also promised a government goodie bag like cheap land and electricity, to battle China and Vietnam. “We are working with the government for a duty free deal with Canada it is easier and faster than tackling the United States,” Ashroff Omar, Chairman of Sri Lankan apparel giant Brandix, told an industry gathering.
Talks have already begun with Canada. The United States and Europe together take up about 90 percent of Sri Lanka’s exports, with Canada and other countries taking up the balance.
Canada has been a hard market to break into, due to preferential trade deals competitors like Bangladesh have for being Least Developed Countries (LDC).
Sri Lanka is hoping to sell on its top quality, very strong labour standards and its vulnerability to post-quota competition from countries like China, India and Vietnam.
The global garment trade was governed by a system of quotas given by developed countries to developing producer countries, which ended in December 2004.
Last year, Sri Lanka’s apparel exports to the US grew in five of about 35 categories like c