Sajith requests EU delegation not to discontinue GSP+ concessions

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa has requested the visiting delegation of the European Union not to discontinue the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) concessions granted to Sri Lanka.

This was mentioned during a meeting held between the Opposition Leader and the EU envoys yesterday.

An EU delegation of five high-ranking officials arrived in Sri Lanka earlier this week to engage in discussions with Sri Lankan authorities pertaining to the GSP+ concessions.

Speaking in this regard, SJB MP Lakshman Kiriella said the visiting EU delegates are looking into civil rights, rule of law, and human rights in Sri Lanka. He said the Opposition requested them not to terminate the GSP+ concessions despite the concerns regarding human rights, rule of law, and civil rights.

The EU envoys have also called on Justice Minister Ali Saby, PC, who briefed them of the positive developments in the country’s judiciary.

The delegation stated that the EU is satisfied with the situation in Sri Lanka.

The GSP Plus is a special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance. It completely slashes the tariffs for exports from low and lower-middle-income countries that implement 27 international conventions related to human rights, labour rights, protection of the environment, and good governance.

A total of eight countries including Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and the Philippines are benefitting from the current GSP+ facility.

Previously, Sri Lanka had benefited from the GSP scheme, which provides partial or full removal of customs duties on two-third of tariff lines. However, the EU, in 2010, decided to put a halt to the provision of preferential treatment to Sri Lanka’s exports, citing the failure to address alleged human rights violations in the country.

In July 2016, Sri Lanka applied for GSP+ and the granting of the preferences came into effect in May 2017.

According to the European Commission, the EU is Sri Lanka’s second-largest trading partner after China and its second main export destination, absorbing 22.4% of Sri Lankan exports in 2020.

In 2020, Sri Lanka was the EU’s 69th largest trading partner in goods accounting for 0.1% of EU trade.

In June this year, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for the repeal of Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) as the law is deemed incompatible with the conventions that the country has to implement under the GSP+ granted to the island nation.

In the resolution, the EU Parliament called on the European Commission to consider “temporary withdrawal” of Sri Lanka’s preferential access to European markets, which cuts trade tariffs significantly for Sri Lankan exports, including apparel, ceramic, and rubber. – ada derana

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