Extension of GSP Plus scheme an uphill task - Prof. Lakdas
Prof. Lakdas Fernando
The extension of the GSP Plus scheme appears to be an uphill task
since Sri Lanka did not fully satisfy the conditions set out by the
European Union (EU) such as Human Rights, good governance and
environment, said Chairman, Sri Lanka Apparel Institute, Prof. Lakdas
He said the government will have to comply with the 27 ILO
international Conventions on labour, good governance, human rights and
safety standards for environment.
Sri Lanka had to comply with 23 international conventions before the
country received the benefits.
"We hope that the EU will consider the vulnerability of the country's
economy and the apparel industry which has employed over 300,000 people
and empowered women.The apparel industry is the highest foreign exchange
earner in the country with net earnings of US$ 3 billion last year", he
The stakeholders are making a concerted effort to get the scheme
passed. Minister of International Trade and Export Development Prof. G.L.
Peiris held discussions with the EU heads on the renewal of the scheme.
The apparel industry has the best compliance standards and a good
reputation in international markets.
The industry hopes that the EU will not be vindictive in its approach
to a sector which has empowered women and helped reduce poverty in the
The killing of aid workers, eminent persons being asked to leave the
country and the recent spate of human rights violations has created a
negative image of the country. The EU granted the GSP Plus benefits to
Sri Lanka enabling the country to export 7,000 items to the region.
The three schemes granted in 2005 will be taken up for renewal at the
end of the year. The stakeholder should take into account the low
utilisation of the GSP Plus scheme. The weak backward integration and
high capital intensive investments were the primary reasons for low
Prof. Fernando said the country's apparel sector is gradually moving
towards better investments with the setting up of the Thulhiriya and
Sithawaka knitting plants.
There has not been sufficient investments on woven fabrics. The
Horana BOI zone has been developed to support backward integration and
the weaving sector.
Clean water which is an essential requirement for woven fabric plants
is available at the Horana zone.