‘Regranting GSP+ to SL hinges on resolution of rights issues’


By Steve A. Morrell

Focusing on the EU withdrawal of the GSP+ concession to Sri Lanka and its consequences, EU ambassador to Sri Lanka David Daly said regranting GSP + hinged not only on Tshirts or fishing rights, but on also factors such as human rights protection, labour rights sustenance and upholding of the Rule of Law locally.

He was speaking recently at a National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka convened forum on trade between Sri Lanka and the European Union. Representation from the business community in Colombo was quite substantial.

‘EU countries have a collective population of over 500 million people. Exposure to such markets would mean substantial trade among all relevant countries. Benefits from such trade transactions would mean substantial foreign exchange earnings for Sri Lanka.

‘Tea, garments and spices, for instance cinnamon, were in high demand in all EU states. Besides these, all other Sri Lankan products with the ‘made in Sri Lanka’ legend, should have substantial volumes in exports, more so that consistency in high standards was essential for continuous demand for such products.

‘Moving up the supply chain is prompted by enhanced production. Product assortment of Sri Lankan exports was few and far between. Additionally, assuming such products met European standards, supply consistency in volumes demanded was not met. Besides, Sri Lanka’s export preferences to Europe are not adequately styled on market demands. There was no room for complacency, Daly said.

‘EU countries helping Sri Lanka was dependent on these factors.

Questioned by the press on existing tax regimes, and import tariffs, in that, there was no mention of such tariffs at that forum, ambassador Daly said each country within the EU had their own tax structures and he could not make general comments on such imports.

Reverting to the ambassador’s comment on tea being a good standard product imported to Europe, the press commented that most EU countries drank copious quantities of wine or beer and also coffee. Suggestions were that Europe should decide to consume more tea.

He agreed that the UK consumed substantial quantities of Ceylon Tea. He said he would say the same of EU countries.

FTAs, fiscal policy and agricultural policies would be within the ambience of GSP+, but he reiterated, that restoring GSP+ to Lanka could take time.

Sector specific value chain, testing standards, labour rights within the ILO report could have telling effects on the bona fides on human rights.

Daly reiterated that rights issues should be resolved prior to regranting GSP + to Lanka.

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