End to garment quotas unlikely to affect Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's apparel industry won't be affected very much by the end of the global quota system in 2005 as the industry is competitive with the high standard of skilled labour and technology employed in garment manufacture, said Prof. G. L. Peiris, Minister of Enterprise Development, Industrial Policy and Investment Promotion last week.

Speaking on the occasion of announcing the Five Year Plans on the Apparel and Rubber Industry, he said Sri Lanka was having discussions with the US tomorrow and on Tuesday (on a possible FTA) which would boost exports there.

Mahesh Amalean, Chairman Task Force for the Apparel Industry presenting the report on the apparel industry said the industry would face many challenges at the end of 2004 when the Multi-Fibre Agreement is phased out. He said, "The quota system which enabled some developing countries like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to flourish despite severe competition, would not be there for the industry to fall back on anymore."

He said that the apparel manufacturing industry had become the most significant contributor to the country's economy over two decades. He said that the end of the quota regime would present an opportunity to manufacturers who have been competing on quality and supplying garments to the higher end of the market to enhance their export volumes.

W.T. Ellawala, Chairman, Task Force on Rubber announcing the five-year plan said that their biggest concern is that there won't be enough rubber in the country to convert into finished products and this is an important factor to be addressed in the long term. He urged all stakeholders to work together for the growth of the industry. He said there should not be conflicting interests between the plantations and the industry.

He said rubber was considered to be an environmentally friendly industry, which provided renewable resources while plantations are believed to have the highest bio-diversity among manmade forests. Due to its high ability to sequester carbon from greenhouse gases, rubber also qualified for carbon trading benefits.
- QP

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