By Easwaran Rutnam
The European Union (EU) is to decide on Sri Lanka’s application for Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) on May 15.
This was communicated to Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran by the EU Ambassador to Sri Lanka Tung-Laï Margue during a meeting in Jaffna last week.
Wigneswaran said he was informed by the EU envoy that the decision on GSP plus for Sri Lanka is to be taken on May 15.
The European Commission last month 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 European Parliament and the Council had up to four months to raise potential objections before the measures become effective.
“GSP+ preferences can make a significant contribution to Sri Lanka’s economic development by increasing exports to the EU market. But this also reflects the way in which we want to support Sri Lanka in implementing human rights, rule of law and good governance reforms. I am confident of seeing timely and substantial further progress in these areas and the GSP+ dialogue and monitoring features will support this reform process. This should include making Sri Lankan counter-terrorism legislation fully compatible with international human rights conventions,” Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström had said last month.
As is the case for all GSP+ countries, the removal of customs duties for Sri Lanka would be accompanied with rigorous monitoring of the country’s progress in the area of sustainable development, human rights and good governance.