The European Commission on Wednesday in exchange of the Sri Lankan government's commitment to ratify 27 international conventions on human rights, labor conditions, protection of the environment and good governance has proposed removing of a significant part of the remaining import duties on Sri Lankan products under the General System of Preference Plus (GSP-Plus).
The European Commission said that the removal of customs duties would be accompanied by rigorous monitoring and conditional on continued commitment to sustainable development, human rights 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 statement further said.
The Trade Commissioner Cecelia MalmstrÃ¶m said that GSP+ preferences can make a significant contribution to Sri Lankaâ€™s economic development by increasing exports to the EU market. But this also reflects the way in which they want to support Sri Lanka in implementing human rights, rule of law and good governance reforms. She is 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.â€™
It also added that the 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 implementations of those conventions, and provides a platform for engagement with beneficiaries on all problematic areas.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that GSP plus was withdrawn from Sri Lanka due to the weakening human rights but his country has won human rights, democracy as a result of the actions of the current administration and the European Union was restoring GSP plus free trade access to the country.
The European Parliament and the Council have now up to four months to raise potential objections before the measures become effective.
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