Sri Lanka apparel industry shrugs off loss of trade benefit

Feb 03, 2011 (LBO) – Sri Lankan apparel exporters are getting enough overseas orders and not been affected as badly as feared by the loss of duty free access to European Union markets, officials said. “Exports are growing moderately,” said A Sukumaran, chairman of the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF), an industry body.

“We have been investing in technology and processes which helped us improve efficiency.”

He said he expects Sri Lanka to have earned 3.3 – 3.4 billion US dollars in apparel exports, the island’s top industrial export, in 2010.

A JAAF statement said apparel and textile exports rose 3.7 percent to 3.04 billion dollars in the January – November 2010 period from the previous year.

Earnings from garment exports to Sri Lanka’s major markets, the EU and USA, rose by 39 percent and 28.7 percent in November 2010, it said.

Industry officials had earlier warned that the withdrawal of the GSP Plus trade deal that gave duty free access to European Union markets in August 2010 could lead to large scale factory closures and job losses.

Loss of the GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) Plus benefits meant Sri Lankan exporters lose duty free access to EU markets a