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AEPC requests Commerce Minister for pre-FTA deal with UK

·         Indian apparel exporters seek fair deal in UK market

DELHI NCR, 18 Nov 2020: Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) Chairman Dr A Sakthivel, in a letter to Hon’ble Commerce and Industry Minister Shri Piyush Goyal, requested the government to strike a pre-FTA preferential trade deal to remove the tariff disadvantage faced by Indian apparels in the UK market.

“It has been learnt that after the implementation of Brexit in January 2021, 47 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) including Bangladesh will continue to enjoy preferential trade benefits after the UK’s departure from the EU. This will be a continuation of the disadvantage to Indian apparels in the important and potential market of the UK.

“India has been losing out to its competitors in the UK and hence we request to initiate discussions for an early trade pact for apparels in the run-up to FTA,” Dr Sakthivel wrote in the letter. The AEPC had earlier requested to fast track negotiations to enter into a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the UK to boost apparel exports.

The Chairman said that the apparel exports to UK, which is India’s third largest export destination after USA and UAE, have been facing a tariff disadvantage of 9.6% as against countries like Bangladesh due to the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), which the UK plans to continue offering to the 47 LDCs.

“It’s not a matter of LDCs. The point is that Bangladesh is equally competitive now and their exports have grown at 11.7% CAGR during 2009-18, when our exports stagnated at 0.5%. Bangladesh exported apparels worth $40.4 billion whereas we did $16.5 billion in 2019. It’s a labour intensive sector and we need to ask for a special consideration in our bilateral relations with the UK,” Dr Sakthivel said.

India’s readymade garments exports to the UK fell 0.8% to $1,606 million in 2019 from $1,619 million in 2018, cutting the UK’s share in India’s exports to 9.7% from 10.3%.