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Thursday, 10 September 2009

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EU meeting to discuss matters:

Top business delegation to lobby for GSP+ facility

West should support private sector, not try to cripple the economy:

Nawaz Rajabdeen Tissa Jayaweera Rohan Masakorala Sunil Wijesinghe

A high-powered business delegation will visit the European Union to discuss matters regarding the GSP+ facility and to lobby for the facility as there is an uncertainty over it, said Vice President of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Immediate Past President of the Federation Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka Nawaz Rajabdeen.

He said that the ten member delegation is not yet decided.

The country has been fighting a three-decade war and it was liberated from the clutches of LTTE terrorism. The most affected were people from the Northern and the Eastern provinces. This is the time we need support from the Western world to develop our country, he said.

If the GSP+ facility is denied poor industrialists will be affected and the Northern and Eastern development programs in the fisheries, industries and tourism sectors too will be hit adversely. This will be a drawback for our economic progress, he said.

The Western world could extend its support by providing the facility to Sri Lanka at a time the country has embarked on an accelerated development program. The private sector is proactive towards the Northern and Eastern development and they need the GSP+ facility to continue more development work.

“We would be creating another set of rebellions against the Government if the development work in these provinces comes to a halt,” he said.

The factories to be set up in the North and East, especially the apparel sector will be affected and it would also discourage potential industrialists in setting up factories in the industrial estates in these provinces, he said.

The Western world should think positively and support the private sector. It should not try to cripple the economy.

It should handle issues with the Government in a different forum. We need the support of the diaspora abroad too. The private sector should play a pivotal role in creating employment, poverty alleviation and establishing peace. For this they should be given the GSP+ facility, he said.

We are thankful to Asian countries such as India, Pakistan and China for the support they extended towards our industrial policy and the help to develop the country. Sri Lanka has created opportunities for development in sectors such as power, agro based industries, animal husbandry and infrastructure.

China plays an important role in various development projects and this is clear evidence to the whole world that Sri Lanka is on the path to positive development, he said.

Chairman, International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka, Tissa Jayaweera said that the business community welcomes the GSP+ facility as it is always beneficial for us. This facility would benefit us. We need to make a voice known, especially the sectors that would be affected. Lobbying should be done to enable the facility.

The GSP+ facility was offered to Sri Lanka when the country was affected by the tsunami.

The country has accelerated its development process and for this we need support.

In the event of the facility being denied our products will be less competitive in the world market. However, we should not give up without a fight, he said.

Secretary General, Joint Apparel Association Forum Rohan Masakorala said that there would be serious repercussions if we were to be denied the GSP+ facility. It will be a critical factor for the apparel sector.

Our products will be less competitive in the European market which accounts for 70 percent of the apparel exports and 60 percent of other exports. There will be a serious economic impact on exporters who export to Europe.

We need to obtain the GSP+ through negotiations. “The issue is of national importance and we need to have a win-win situation,” he said.

Chairman and Managing Director of Dankotuwa Porcelain Sunil Wijesinghe said that the withdrawal of the GSP+ facility would have drastic consequences on the ceramic industry. The ceramic industry has three basic categories of tiles, tableware and ornamental industries.

The tile industry is mainly for the local market with a small export market. Three companies manufacture tableware namely, Noritake, Dankotuwa and Fernwood.

These companies are export oriented and 80 percent is for the export market. Noritake exports to the USA whereas Dankotuwa and Fernwood export to the European market, he said.



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