Sri Lanka to Request Trade Relief

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In a move to prevent its apparel industry from becoming another casualty of last month's tsunami, Sri Lanka plans to ask the United States and the European Union to lift duties on apparel made in the country, according to published reports yesterday.

As previously reported, Sri Lanka's apparel factories suffered minimal damage in the tsunami. But damage to roads, ports, electric lines and water supplies was extensive and could have long-term ramifications for the country's apparel industry and companies that export products from there.

A crippled infrastructure coupled with the Jan. 1 lifting of international trade quotas threatens to decimate Sri Lanka's apparel industry, the island's biggest employer.

Sri Lanka wants duties lifted on apparel made of foreign fabric -- the island's garment makers rely mostly on imported fabric -- the country's ambassador to the World Trade Organization, Gomi Senadhira, told Women's Wear Daily. The request hasn't officially been made yet.

Since the apparel sector was one of the few industrial sectors not destroyed by the tsunami -- tourism and fishing took a much harder hit -- Sri Lanka hopes the trade breaks would cushion the economic effect of the tsunami aftermath.

Chantal Todé covers catalog and retail news and BTB marketing for DM News and DM To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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