Apr 27, Brussels: The European Parliament Thursday has voted to defeat a resolution tabled to deny granting the European Union’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences, Plus known as GSP+ tariff concession to Sri Lanka again.
Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Harsha de Silva said that Sri Lanka won the vote in Brussels after 436 MEPs voted against, 119 voted in favor and 22 abstained for the motion to deny GSP plus for Sri Lanka.
An European Parliamentary group tabled the resolution in the 751-member European Parliament against granting the GSP+tariff concession to Sri Lanka saying that Sri Lanka’s government’s reform efforts are not adequate to grant the tariff concession.
The group, Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) of 52 Members of European Parliament (MEPs) in their submission says that the government’s reform efforts, including those that directly relate to the GSP+ criteria, have not yet delivered in their purpose to comply with the international conventions.
The Sri Lankan government held discussions with several Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) ahead of the vote and discussed issues related to the Sri Lanka GSP+ to explain the measures the government has taken to improve democracy, governance, rule of law, human rights and reconciliation.
The 751-member European Parliament’s vote today follows the European Commission’s recommendation in January that GSP+ should be granted to Sri Lanka once again after withdrawing it in 2010 due to the poor human rights record of the country.
In 2015, the new government of Sri Lanka set out a path of major reforms aiming for national reconciliation, respect of human rights, the rule of law and good governance principles, as well as sustainable economic development. The Sri Lankan government applied for GSP+ in July 2016 and the Commission�s assessment has concluded that it met the GSP+ entry criteria set out in the EU Regulation.
The EU is Sri Lanka’s biggest export market accounting for nearly one-third of Sri Lanka’s global exports. In 2015, total bilateral trade amounted to Euro 4.7 billion. EU imports from Sri Lanka amounted to euro 2.6 billion and consisted mainly of textiles as well as rubber products and machinery.