SRI LANKA: Textile trade tops summit agendas

The SAARC (South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation) Chamber of Commerce has reviewed regional cooperation in textile and apparel at a recent summit. Apparel and textiles were one of the areas identified by the SAARC Chamber for business collaboration and intra-regional investments. "South Asian countries can pool specialisations to increase our world market share in textile and apparel," said the president of the SAARC Chamber, Tariq Sayeed, speaking at the annual Economic Summit organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce last week. "Sri Lanka and India can share technologies and processes with the others. Also Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have preferential access to EU markets.


"Other (South Asian) countries can invest in these countries to make use of this," said Sayeed. Textile and apparel from Sri Lanka gets duty free access into the EU through the GSP+ trade scheme, while Bangladesh also enjoys duty free access into the EU through the special arrangement for the least-developed countries, also known as the Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative. Sayeed said textile and garment investments are already flowing into Bangladesh from other SAARC countries. "Some Pakistani garment companies are already setting up in Bangladesh and even Sri Lankan companies. This is because of the lower costs and the access into EU markets," said Sayeed. To maximise on opportunities, the SAARC Chamber suggested further investment facilitation among SAARC countries in the apparel and textile sector. SAARC is a regional association made up of the 8 South Asian countries of India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. The SAARC Chamber is made up of federations of chambers of commerce from seven countries, excluding the recently acceded Afghanistan. The chamber is the official conduit to collectively convey the region's trade and business interests to the SAARC. Sri Lanka will host the 15th SAARC Summit in Colombo, from 27 July to 3 August.

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