Lanka clinches new EU GSP

*87 Countries exit EU GSP from 1st-Jan but Lanka is still in

*Bilateral trade at $ 5 Bn


As many EU GSP beneficiary economies witness an end to their benefits on 1 January 2014 with the activation of the new GSP scheme, some notables, including Sri Lanka, shall continue to smile vis-à-vis their shipments to world’s largest economy. Despite the reduction of the number of countries enjoying EU GSP in June 2012, starting tomorrow 1 January 2014, Sri Lanka has clinched 10 more years of this promising lifeline from the world’s largest trading bloc. "The EU parliament has approved the New GSP Scheme on 13th June 2012 and will come into effect from 1st January 2014. Sri Lanka will continue to be a beneficiary of the Scheme" revealed Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka.

The EU is the largest economy and the largest trading block in the world, acting as the top trading partner for no less than 80 countries-a feat of strength that no any other economy has matched in modern times. EU even ranks first in both inbound and outbound international investments. EU is also Sri Lanka’s largest global trading partner (US ranks second). EU is a 500 Mn strong market and holds clear promise for Lankan exports. According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, there is an increasing trend in trade and the balance of trade between EU and Sri Lanka has been in favour of Sri Lanka. Total trade between Sri Lanka and EU which was at $ 3 Bn in 2004 rose $ 4,946.18 Mn in 2012. Sri Lanka’s major export items to EU are apparel, diamonds, tea and rubber products. EU is also one of the most diversified investors in Sri Lanka, with leading European companies operating in almost all sectors of economy-specially, FMCG, higher education, apparel, infrastructure, manufacturing, agro, technology and even in strategic development projects. Such EU multinationals as Unilever and British American Tobacco are well embedded to Sri Lankan lifestyle with their decades-long FMCG presence. The UK, Germany, Italy, Belgium, France and Sweden are the leading EU investors in Sri Lanka. EU’s specific investment segments include hosiery, knitwear, surf sails, electronic products, light engineering, rubber based products, (e.g. tyres), coir based products, gem and jewellery, diamond processing, tourism and recreational products, security printing, infrastructure development, activated carbon, food processing, computer software, ICT etc.

In June 2012, EU redesigned its GSP scheme and as a result, the beneficiary countries were reduced from 177 to 90. Twenty countries in high and upper-middle income range will stop benefitting from preferential access to the EU from 1 January 2014. Among them are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Venezuela, Belarus, Russia, and Malaysia. Their exports will now enter the EU with a normal tariff applicable to all other developed countries. Of the former 177 GSP beneficiaries, 90 countries will continue to benefit from GSP-with Sri Lanka among them. The new GSP scheme will remain in effect for ten years from tomorrow 1 January. Sri Lanka is listed in the "Low and Lower Middle Income GSP beneficiaries" category in the new scheme, and several other countries in the same category too will continue to be entitled to EU GSP (similar to Sri Lanka) onwards January 2014–notable among them are Thailand, Vietnam, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, the Philippines, Indonesia, India, and China.

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