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Preferential access to US urged for Lankan garments

US: Export Development and International Trade Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, has urged preferential access for apparel products from Sri Lanka into the markets of the United States.

In an address to a combined gathering of the United States Chamber of Commerce and the American Apparel and Footwear Association, Prof. Peiris drew attention to the achievements of the apparel industry in Sri Lanka during the last few years.

He said that American purchases of apparel products accounted for almost 45 per cent of Sri Lanka’s exports, while the industry accounted for 8 per cent of the country’s GDP.

He pointed out that, beginning from modest origins with inadequate facilities and infrastructure, the Sri Lankan apparel industry is today catering for the most sophisticated markets of the United States, and is a supplier for such prestigious brands as Speedo, Abercrombie and Fitch, Ann Taylor, Victoria’s Secret and Next.

The impressive achievements in design, marketing and product development, he said, had been accompanied by a deep commitment to social accountability and preservation of the environment.

Sri Lanka, he said, has no sweat shops and consistently eschewed forced labour, child labour and oppressive working hours. Competition with integrity, epitomised by the concept of ‘Garments Without Guilt’, was the hallmark of the Sri Lankan apparel sector.

He said that Sri Lanka is particularly proud that Marks and Spencer have chosen the country as the site for the world’s first green apparel plant, the construction of which has already commenced.

Minister Peiris urged premier American apparel associations to use their good offices to prevail on members of Congress to support concessions for Sri Lanka.

Members of the Joint Apparel Association Federation (JAAF) led by Ajith Dias, made an exhaustive presentation highlighting the spectacular advances made by the Sri Lankan apparel sector.

At a series of meetings with the International Trade Administration and the Office of Textile Import Administration of the United States Department of Commerce, Minister Peiris said that 350,000 persons in Sri Lanka depended for their livelihood directly on the apparel industry. Almost a million people were indirectly dependant on it.

A political resolution of the ethnic conflict, he observed, required a sufficient level of economic prosperity and wellbeing, and support by the United States in this field is crucial today, he noted.

 

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