Lanka confident of regaining GSP + concessions from EU
By Sunimalee Dias
Sri Lanka has complied with all the regulations to qualify for EU GSP+ concessions, and is confident in regaining them when the new round of GSP+ concessions is announced.
“We are on a good wicket now,” said Shobini Gunasekera, Director-General – Europe and North America at the Foreign Ministry, commenting on the progress of extensive talks recently with the European Union (EU).
During the recent 25th Session of the EU –Sri Lanka Joint Commission dialogue the EU had also presented the new EU GSP Regulation, which is expected to come into force on January 1, 2024, for the next 10 year cycle. Ms. Gunasekera said that while the new cycle of benefits comes into effect next year, countries currently receiving GSP+ benefits like Sri Lanka have a two-year period to
reapply for these concessions and will continue to receive these benefits during the next two years.
The EU will be releasing the review report of the last EU GSP+ by next month, she said
Other sources said the EU Commission would, in the coming months, present the GSP+ monitoring report to the European Parliament and the European Council.
This document would contain an assessment on how Sri Lanka has implemented its commitment to the 27 Conventions related to international standards in human rights, labour rights, the environment, and good governance. In return, the EU would cut its import duties to zero on more than two thirds of the tariff lines of their exports.
Sri Lanka would have to re-apply for preferential status by end 2025 and demonstrate its implementation of the commitments made to the 27 conventions under the current GSP + regulation, the sources said.
During the recent Joint Commission dialogue between Sri Lanka and the EU, areas relating to reconciliation, human rights, trade, development cooperation, climate change and environment, sectoral cooperation, international security cooperation and cooperation in multilateral fora were discussed.
Discussions were also held on the 21st Amendment to the Constitution to enhance democratic governance, according to a joint statement issued at the end of the May 9 talks. Amending of the Gazette on the new Anti-Terrorism Bill was discussed by the Sri Lankan Government prior to it being submitted to Parliament. It was noted that public observations were adopted to soon replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). The EU has urged Sri Lankan authorities to refrain from using the PTA as well, the sources said.
Another area of discussion was the reconciliation efforts taken up by the Government through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, release of land and resettlement of IDPs and the functioning of the independent offices related to missing persons; reparations; and unity and reconciliation.
Sri Lanka has also assured the EU of presenting a plan by next month for the lifting of import restrictions which prevents many European products from entering the market.
Sri Lanka had also updated the EU on the drafting of the new Fisheries Act to prevent and eliminate the IUU (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated) fishing practices. In addition, discussions also pertained to the cooperation in the framework of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) that coordinates the regulation and management of tuna in the region.