The garment industry to lobby for duty free access into US
The garment industry is to visit Washington this month to lobby for duty free access into the US market, on the grounds of ethical manufacturing standards.
“We will be visiting Washington from June 25 to 27 to meet US congressmen, senators, policymakers and industry, to ask for preferential access into the US for our garments on the basis of our ethical industry standards,” said Kumar Mirchandani, Chairman of the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF), Marketing and Image Building Committee, speaking at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and BOI, Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2007, on Friday.
“Our industry does not employ child labour, we provide rural employment and we empower women. Our industry is one of the few that has made a conscious decision to go into rural areas. We also have high labour standards and a high degree of social and environmental accountability. So we feel we have a good chance of establishing a case for ethical practices and contributions to poverty reduction. There are also no anti-dumping cases against us and there are no other complaints against us at the World Trade Organisation on trading practices. So we think we have a case for ‘trade not aid’ and this is what we are hoping to present in Washington,” said Mirchandani.
Although not expecting any immediate results the industry is asking for zero duty access into the US market which is currently Sri Lanka’s largest export destination for garments.
“We are asking for duty free access of course. But we are not saying this is going to happen easily,” said Mirchandani.
Last year the industry launched a campaign to establish itself globally as an ethical manufacturer.
Called Garment’s Without Guilt, the campaign presents Sri Lanka as an ethical manufacturing destination highlighting the country’s good labour standards and high social and environmental standards.
The garment industry plans to present the Garment’s Without Guilt concept to top policy and decision makers in the US to protect current market share from heightening competition and to gain preferential access for made-in-Sri Lanka garments.