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Sri Lanka Regains GSP Plus

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says, in a media statment, that Sri Lanka has regained the Generalised Scheme of Preferences, known as GSP Plus. He says regaining the GSP Plus was possible due to the government’s commitment to the protection of human rights and the restoration of democracy.

"This is a victory not only for the Yahapalana regime but also for the entire nation," the PM says, noting that GSP Plus will enable the Sri Lankan apparel and other products to enter the EU market resulting in new job opportunities and enhanced revenue.

The Prime Minister has thanked all those who worked for regaining GSP Plus.

Meanwhile, the European Commission yesterday 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, a statement issued by the EU Commission said.

It said that these preferences would come under a special arrangement of the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences, known as GSP+. "This arrangement is designed to support developing countries by fostering their economic development through increased trade with Europe and providing incentives to take tangible measures towards sustainable development."

The European Parliament and the Council have now up to four months to raise potential objections before the measures become effective.

Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: "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."

However, the EU Commission said that granting access to the GSP+ scheme does not mean that the situation of the beneficiary country with respect to the 27 international conventions is fully satisfactory.

"Instead, it offers the incentive of increased trade access in return for further progress towards the full implementation of those conventions, and provides a platform for engagement with beneficiaries on all problematic areas."

"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."
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