Multi-ministerial effort to regain GSP plus
The Foreign Ministry is coordinating a multi-ministerial effort to
fulfil criteria to reapply for the European Union’s GSP plus tariff
concessions, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maheshini Kolonne said. In
repsonse to a query by the Sunday Observer she said, it was difficult to
say when Sri Lanka will be ready to apply for the tariff concessions,
since more needs to be done to become eligible to submit the
A crucial meeting on reviving the GSP plus will be held, when an EU
delegation is expected to visit Sri Lanka in April this year. The EU had
turned human rights and reconciliation, a basis to revoke the trade
tariff concessions on which Sri Lanka is pinning its hopes to revive its
export sector, especially exports to the European market.
EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven
Mimica who visited the country last week said it will take nearly 10
months to process an application to resume the GSP plus facility, from
the point of submission.
Indicating that they had recognised the work, Sri Lanka had done so
far he said, “It is a process on track” and added, “I would not say Sri
Lanka has not done enough.”
The Commissioner said the reconciliation process is a ‘very
complicated and delicate’ issue, and the ‘EU stands ready to compliment
Sri Lanka’s reconciliation and democratic process’.
However, the EU does not provide trariff concessions to upper middle
income economies. Their latest development aid of Euro 38 million
pledged last week aims at supporting Sri Lanka in its transition to
become an upper middle income country.
Commissioner Mimica who is a Croatian politician, held a series of
high level meetings with President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister
Ranil Wickremesinghe, other political leaders and members of civil
society during his three-day visit here. He also opened the new EU
delegation office next to the British High Commission last week.
EU is Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner. Nearly 40 per cent of Sri
Lanka’s total exports reach Europe every year. Till 2011, Sri Lanka was
among 16 chosen countries which enjoyed special GSP plus tariff lines.
The special concessions continued for two consecutive three-year-terms,
until it was interrupted by allegations of human rights violations.