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Brexit is an opportunity for Lankan apparel exporters

Sri Lanka's apparel exporters say Brexit might result in a level playing field as other exporting countries which currently enjoy duty-free access to the United Kingdom (UK) under GSP will also lose the facility when London walks out of the 28-nation bloc. While Bangladesh has GSP Plus which gives them duty free access and with Brexit , Sri Lanka will be able to compete better, feels Noel Piyathilake, Chairman, Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF).

Sri Lanka, has been losing half a billion dollars since the withdrawal of GSP facility by EU in 2010 due to poor human rights violation in the wake of armed internal conflict, will be exposed to a level playing field as the GSP plus facility will not stand for exports to UK post Brexit.

Brexit will result in Sri Lanka having to negotiate a separate trade agreement with the UK and so would other exporting countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan and Myanmar, because GSP Plus concessions will cease to apply on exports to the UK, Piyathilake says. According to Sri Lanka's Central Bank, 29 per cent of the country's exports go to the EU and 34 per cent of this is for UK. This is slightly less than 10 per cent of the island nation's garment exports that are worth a little more than $1 billion. Apparel exports accounted for 46 per cent of total exports from Sri Lanka in 2015.