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Sri Lanka Hopes Renewed EU GSP Plus Will Curb Effects of TPP

As it rises in the ranks of apparel producing countries, Sri Lanka has its sights set on the European Union’s renewal of its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Plus scheme.

The EU pulled the island nation’s trade privilege in 2010 over alleged human rights abuses, and since Sri Lanka’s new government took office in January, the country has been working to correct its compliance issues.

In March, an EU trade delegation discussed the possibility of reinstating the trade privileges to fuel the country’s apparel exports.

Speaking at the annual Ransalu Textile Expo inauguration event in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo this month, minister of industry and commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said any effects from the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could be quelled if the EU renews Sri Lanka’s GSP Plus privilege, the country’s Daily FT reported.

“We are inaugurating this textile event at a time our world class apparel industry is becoming increasingly hopeful on regaining the GSP Plus facility with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s able economic diplomacy and leadership. There are many concerns in trade sectors across the world that this October’s Trans Pacific Partnership agreement or TPP could have an impact on them,” Bathiudeen said.

Both the prime minister and Bathiudeen agreed the TPP deal could be studied further, but the Sri Lankan government is presently pressing ahead with efforts toward GSP Plus renewal.

“Our government’s timely initiative to regain GSP Plus is likely to cancel out any potential effects of TPP on our apparels, and I’m confident that our world class apparel sector would continue with its strong performance,” the Daily FT reported Bathiudeen as saying.

Sri Lanka has plans to rank among the world’s top 10 high-quality apparel manufacturers and the country has set a new export target of $10 billion by 2025—roughly double 2014’s $4.9 billion.