Apparel industry confident of GSP plus extension following talks

The Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF), the apex body for the Sri Lankan apparel industry has expressed optimism over the possibility of securing an industry-critical extension of the EU GSP+ programme.

This followed its most recent round of discussions with the Government, led by the State Ministry of Regional Cooperation.

The meeting was the third in a series of discussions initiated with the support of Minister Namal Rajapaksa and State Minister Tharaka Balasuriya, with the goal of creating a platform for the industry to deliberate with key Government officials over issues faced by the apparel sector.

The most recent meeting was attended by State Minister Tharaka Balasuriya, Admiral Professor Jayanath Colombage Foreign Secretary, officials of the Ministry and representatives of the JAAF and focused on the importance of GSP+ to the apparel industry, and the wider economy, as well progress on reforms and related discussions aimed at securing the facility.

“We were pleased to learn that the Foreign Ministry will continue to engage with the EU both on the Joint Commission and the Monitoring Mechanism of the EU GSP plus regime, while a sincere and committed effort is also being made to directly address all of their concerns. Based on the progress we are seeing, we are hopeful that a continuation of GSP plus can be secured,” JAAF Secretary General Tuli Cooray stated.

The meeting builds on the process of continuous engagement that JAAF has with the State Ministry on this important topic of GSP plus. GSP plus benefits a number of industries besides apparel, fisheries, ceramics and agriculture.

Notably, products exported to the EU fall under a total of 42 HS chapters which have a GSP plus utilization of over 75%. These varied industries have been contributing to the diversification of the country’s export basket which in itself is one of the objectives of the EU GSP plus programme.

These include a large number of Small and Medium Enterprises, which would be severely impacted by the loss of GSP plus and consequent increase in duties levied against Sri Lankan exports. (Colombo Gazette)