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Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 05.41 GMT
Sri Lanka, US look to boost trade ties


Sri Lanka and the US, the top buyer of island's exports has further room to grow, officials had said following a visit by business delegation.

"We are the biggest single customer for Sri Lanka, and thatís something we are very proud of," the Sri Lankan embassy in Washington quoted assistant US Trade Representative Micheal Delaney as saying.

"We are responsible for tens of thousands of jobs in the Island, and those jobs are not just the numbers, those are families, they support their children, they live up their dreams, their children will go on to lead a better life."

Delaney had said that the Office of the US Trade Representative is always looking for ways to expand and grow economic links and there was more potential.

"Of all the countries that I've walked in, I would say, Sri Lanka has the greatest potential for rapid growth going forward," he was quoted as saying.

Sri Lanka's embassy in Washington had hosted a delegation of business leaders on a visit sponsored by the US embassy in Colombo.

"I believe economic partnerships build the strongest pillar of diplomatic relations," Sri Lanka's Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya said.

"I am proud to welcome this group of eminent Sri Lankans who are responsible for bringing in the most of Sri Lankaís foreign exchange."

Sri Lanka became a top apparel exporter after US free traders managed to defeat nationalists and opened the textile and apparel trade giving the liberty to American citizens to buy any garment made anywhere.

Initially, rent-seeking nationalist business interests in developed nations were given time to adjust by extending protectionism through the quotas of the so-called multi-fibre agreement.

The deal paved the way for apparel manufacturing to spread throughout the world, creating new jobs for unemployed millions in developing countries and giving access - without full competition - to developing country based manufacturers.

The apparel industry has given gainful employment to millions of women, whose only alternative in many cases was domestic work, or in extreme cases, prostitution.

Lower prices for clothes in countries like America also lowered living cost of residents, raising their living standards and increasing disposal incomes.

Higher disposable incomes resulting from cheaper imports allowed US citizens to buy more goods and especially services, helping domestic businesses to flourish, creating more high quality jobs.

Exports (and imports) of goods and services eventually results in the flattening of wage levels across the world (a process known as labour arbitrage), raising overall living standards across national boundaries limiting the need for migration to reduce unemployment.

Among the business delegation was Mahesh Amalean chairman of MAS Holdings, Ashroff Omar, chief executive of Brandix; Sumal Perera, chairman of Access group and Ajith Gunawardane, deputy chairman John Keells Group.

Others included Jeevan Gnanam chief executive of Orion Management Consortium, Keith Modder, chief executive of Virtusa, Lawrence Perera, chief executive of Micro Holdings and Niro Cooke, director of Kings Holdings.






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Last modified: October 17, 2013.

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