Colombo Telegraph

GSP Plus: Government Under Pressure From EU Office In Colombo

Just days since the European Commission proposed the GSP + concession to Sri Lanka, the EU office in Colombo has already begun pressuring the Government to ensure it sticks to its commitments.

Sources said that since last week’s announcement by the European Commission, the mission in Colombo has already contacted relevant government officials seeking details with regard to the government’s implementation of obligations, which is part of the conditions if Sri Lanka is to obtain the GSP + concession.

In a tweet on Friday the EU Mission in Colombo also said it was ‘important’ for Sri Lanka to deliver on its commitments to regain GSP+.

The European Commission has proposed the GSP + concession provided the Sri Lankan government ratifies 27 international conventions in relation to human rights, good governance, labour conditions and environment protection.

A special delegation is also scheduled to visit Colombo to discuss matters with regard to the government’s progress. “The government must ensure all vital areas, specially on human rights and good governance are addressed. The EU is very serious, and mere rhetoric will not suffice, so based on the government’s progress covering these areas will it be decided if Sri Lanka will obtain the concession or not,” a source said.

A meeting is scheduled between government ministers and officials mid this week where matters in relation to the international conventions will be discussed at length.

In a statement issued on January 11, the European Commission proposed that a significant part of the remaining import duties on Sri Lankan products should be removed by the European Union in exchange for the country’s commitment to ratify and effectively implement 27 international conventions on human rights, labour conditions, protection of the environment and good governance. “These one-way trade preferences would consist of the full removal of duties on 66% of tariff lines, covering a wide array of products including textiles and fisheries,” the statement said.

Sri Lanka had already benefited from GSP Plus in the past, but in 2010 the EU decided to stop the preferential treatment for Sri Lankan imports due to the failure to address reported human rights violations in the country during former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s term. In 2015, following the change in presidency, the new government applied for GSP Plus in July 2016 and the Commission’s assessment has concluded that it met the GSP+ entry criteria set out in the EU regulation.

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