Blog: Leonie BarrieFollow the leader?

Leonie Barrie | 25 January 2005

The EU’s decision to fast-track its new GSP tariff system so that tsunami-hit countries such as Sri Lanka get improved access to EU markets shows how trade rather than aid can – and should – offer a lifeline to struggling economies. But is the US likely to follow the EU’s example? The EU buys around $1,035 billion worth of textile products from Sri Lanka whereas US imports are valued at $1,398 billion and carry tariffs averaging 30 per cent.

Despite calls from US apparel makers, non-governmental organisations and even an admission from the office of the US Trade Representative that several “trade initiatives” are under discussion, nothing has so far been forthcoming. The US textile lobbyists are up in arms, claiming their struggling industry will be damaged even further. But better tax treatment for countries like Sri Lanka will also hurt China – US textile makers’ great enemy – and provides a great opportunity for the real textile industry to show it's not a bunch of protectionists.


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