SRI LANKA: Industry keen on FTA with US

COLOMBO: The Apparel Exporters Association Chairman, Arumugam Pillai Sukumaran said that the future of the country's apparel industry depends on the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States.

The united states has been the biggest customer of country's textile and garment, but with the Multi-Fiber Agreement expiring soon revenues are expected to fall by 20%.

Sukumaran requested Industries and Investment Promotion Minister, Anura Bandaranaike to accord the highest priority of the government to successful conclusion of negotiations with the US authorities.

He said Sri Lanka needs to forge special links with its trading partners to counter the trading blocks posed on the apparel industry, and the proposed FTA with America is one such example.

"Another great concern for our industry is building competitiveness in the global market place" Sukumaran said, adding "increasing productivity is one of major factors in enhancing competitiveness."

The United States has purchased an annual average of some 2.5 billion US dollars of garment and textile from Sri Lanka since the two countries signed the Multi-Fiber Agreement in 1974.

Overseas shipments of textiles and garments comprise 50 percent of Sri Lanka's total export earnings.

Since 2002 Sri Lanka has been seeking a FTA with US mainly to protect the market for garments, but such an agreement will not happen anytime soon no matter who wins the presidency.

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Added: November 25, 2004 Source: Agencies
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