JAAF takes up GSP+ issues with visiting EU delegation

At a meeting held last week between the visiting EU delegation and the representatives of the Joint Apparel Association (JAAF) the importance and value attached to the EU market to the apparel industry was highlighted.It was mentioned that in 2014, the apparel industry had exported US$ 2.1 billion worth or 46% of its total exports mainly to the EU.

The discussion centred on the restoration of the GSP+ tariff concessions to Sri Lanka which is a primary agenda item of the 100 Day program of the new government.

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It was disclosed that Sri Lanka’s share of the international apparel market still remains at around 2% of the total international market, which clearly demonstrates the enormous potential for the apparel industry to expand its share in the world market, the JAAF delegation had further explained.

These were explained during a luncheon meeting with the six member EU delegation led by Head of Mission - Marc Vanheukelen, Director – DG Trade of the European Commission together with David Daly – Ambassador and Head of Delegation with the JAAF. Chairman – Azeem Ismail, Secretary General – M P T Cooray, Chairmen of its member associations and industry leaders participated at this meeting.

The GSP+ tariff concessions enjoyed by the industry from 2005 to 2010 helped the industry to move in the right direction and exports had increased from US$ 1 bn in 2005 to US$ 1.7 bn in 2010; after the withdrawal of GSP+ in August 2010, the industry was able to sustain its exports to the EU and achieved a moderate annual growth rate of 6% to 7% during the period 2010 to 2014.

However, the industry could have maintained an annual growth rate of over 10% and added an additional US$ 600 mn to US$ 700 mn to our export turnover if the GSP+ had been available, the apparel stakeholders had pointed out.