The European Union has formally restored the Generalized Scheme of Preference Plus GSP+ trade concessions to Sri Lanka seven years after it was suspended over human rights related concerns.
Sri Lanka’s Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha De Silva confirmed in a message that the Council of Ministers of the EU had approved Sri Lanka’s GSP plus application which would be effective in less than two weeks. “It’s now done. Effective in less than two weeks,” De Silva said on his official twitter account.
The Government’s Information Department further confirmed Thursday night that the European Union (EU) Foreign Affairs Council had approved GSP plus for Sri Lanka. The Department said the EU approval completes the three procedural requirements for Sri Lanka to receives GSP Plus status stating that the official notification will be finalized in the coming week.
The long awaited decision by the EU comes in the aftermath of a motion taken up in the EU Parliament to not grant Sri Lanka the GSP Plus being defeated last month. The motion was defeated by 436 members voting against it and 119 in favor. Sri Lanka’s apparel sector, a key foreign revenue earner for the island, was harshly affected as a result of losing access to the EU GSP Plus trade concessions in 2009.
In granting the GSP+ facility, the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council has stated that Sri Lanka has ratified and implemented measures contained in a number of international conventions on human and labor rights, environment protection and good governance.
“On this basis, Sri Lanka has become eligible to receive additional tariff preferences for sustainable development and good governance, in addition to the generalized scheme of tariff preferences benefitting to all developing countries,” the Council said.
The EU is Sri Lanka’s biggest export market accounting for nearly one-third of Sri Lanka’s global exports.
Sri Lanka reapplied for the EU GSP facility in June last year and the new government of President Maithripala Sirisena, which took office in 2015, initiated talks with the EU to regain the trade concessions maintaining that it was working on key human rights issues, such as amending anti terror laws.