Publication:The Gaston Gazette; Date: Friday, September 10, 2004 ; Section:Business; Page:23

Sri Lankan execs coming to area

Business community sees opportunity to promote textiles


MONIGAN Gazette Business Editor

Still bracing for a surge of Chinese imports come January, several major textile players from around the region are looking forward to Monday’s visit by executives and diplomats from Sri Lanka.

"We’re doing exactly what the rest of the world is doing, looking to sell unusual products and make new trade partners," said Steve Dobbins, CEO of Maidenbased Carolina Mills.

Dobbins will have multiple roles in Monday’s event, organized by U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick and the Gaston County Economic Development Commission. It starts at 9 a.m.

at the North Carolina Center for Applied Textile Technology in Belmont.

Formerly known as Ceylon, Sri Lanka is an island nation located in the Indian Ocean directly south of India.

"We’re certainly not antitrade … we welcome the opportunity to being able to sell internationally," said Dobbins.

In addition to being a business leader, he is on the board of directors of the textile center.

Dobbins is also a board member with the fledgling National Council of Textile Organizations, which has taken over for the former American Yarn Spinners Association.

"This meeting is a great opportunity to put our textile folks in contact with buyers overseas," Myrick said through her office in Washington. "I invited the Sri Lankan delegation to Gaston County in hopes that they will see what a great product we produce, and will start purchasing our textile goods."

Yarn-makers such as Parkdale Mills and thread-makers such as American & Efird already are established globally. But all remaining restrictions on imports from China will end Jan. 1, something that the Asian giant gained by becoming part of the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, has been one country calling for the extension of Chinese quotas, something neither the WTO nor the Bush administration has been willing to officially consider.

After leaving Gaston County, the Sri Lankans will visit North Carolina State University and its College of Textiles Tuesday. They will meet with other textile companies from Greensboro and Winston-Salem Wednesday.

"We hope this would turn out to be a profitable relationship,"

said Steve Nye of the Gaston County EDC. "That’s what it’s all about — actively participating in a global economy."