Following a statement from US Assistant Secretary Of State Robert Blake, USAID has committed to a Public Private Alliance creating jobs in Northern Sri Lanka. According to the press release, “This alliance is expected to initially employ 750 full-time staff and market its finished apparel to such firms as Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren, Columbia Sportswear, Next, Tesco, and Burberry. Emphasis will be placed on supporting widows, single mothers, and families with disabled members.”
This commitment comes as Sri Lanka has lost its preferential GSP+ trade access to the large European Union markets and even America is investigating its GSP concession after the AFL-CIO Union there requested a check into worker conditions at local factories. It also comes as a contrast to Chinese and Indian driven ports and power projects which, while creating much-needed infrastructure, do not create very many local jobs.
According to USAID Mission Director Rebecca Cohn said, “In April, USAID launched five new alliances in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka, including aquaculture, horticulture, logistics, and garment partnerships. I am confident these new alliances together with the previously established alliances will be significant catalysts to spur development in the North.”
This most recent alliance connects local garments producers with buyers from Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren, Columbia Sportswear, Next, Tesco, and Burberry. According to the press release, “Emphasis will be placed on supporting widows, single mothers, and families with disabled members.”