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SL Minister vows to protect apparel exports from TPP
May '16
Sri Lanka's apparel industry would be safeguarded from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement which can potentially trigger trade diversion from the island nation, its Minister of Commerce and Industry Rishad Bathiudeen has said.

"We need to be able to carefully address the new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. We in the government understand that TPP is a trade challenge in the future and are currently studying it," the Minister said.

"Under the TPP tax free garment export opportunities are made available to our competitor countries in the South East Asian region. Since no detailed information is available on TPP for us to understand its impact in a clear way we need to continuously watch for latest developments in this regard," he said.

At the launch of the Ransalu Pranama Combo Card jointly by Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) Sri Lanka, Channel 17, Mobitel and Commercial Bank in Colombo earlier this week, Bathiudeen said the TPP is not a trade challenge only for Sri Lanka but it even affects trading systems of its own 12 member countries .

The Minister said Sri Lanka however, can generally expect some major aspects that could change and advised the apparel manufacturers to safeguard their designs.

"For example at present it appears that copyright and trademark could become a key aspect in TPP. Therefore it would be advisable for Lankan apparel designers to consider international copyright protection requirements for their designs in the future," he said adding that the government is willing to support the Lankan apparel sector to safeguard its international copyrights and to sustain its competitiveness if necessary.

Despite adopting a combative stance vis-a-vis the TPP, Bathiudeen also sought to play down any suggestion of a looming threat by the world's biggest trading bloc. He even suggested that a rash of new Free Trade Agreements by Sri Lanka could neutralise any potential threat of the TPP.

"More importantly as we get closer to various new FTAs such as the China FTA, Singapore FTA etc. under the economic vision of the government, the TPP may not be such a big worry or a challenge. Once the FTAs are implemented and when we start collecting their trade benefits, today's challenges from TPP may not be as strong as we expected them to be. Also given the competitive and dynamic nature of our apparel manufacturers I am confident that we could overcome TPP effects especially in the medium to long term," he said. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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