Fresh EU review on GSP+

Sri Lanka’s compliance to the conventions laid out by the European Union (EU) will come under fresh review next month as a mission is scheduled to arrive in the country to ascertain whether Sri Lanka has done enough to retain the GSP Plus concession.

The mission will carry out the first formal review of the country’s progress in areas of concern since a resolution was adopted by the European Parliament in June urging the European Commission to temporarily withdraw Sri Lanka’s GSP Plus status.

The resolution seeking temporary suspension of the trade concession was adopted since the island nation failed to address issues on human rights violations. 

Ambassador of the European Union to Sri Lanka Denis Chaibi shared yesterday that while close monitoring and reporting efforts are being carried out by the EU Delegation in Sri Lanka, plans are afoot for a mission to arrive in the country to carry out an inspection meeting to review the actual progress made.

Although it is yet to be decided whether the review will be held virtually or in person, Chaibi said the EU is keen to allow Sri Lanka to continue to reap the benefits of GSP Plus for which it wants to ensure the concerns raised on the human rights front are addressed.

“We will discuss the issues where we have some concerns and the areas we want to see some progress.  

We also want to see the issues where progress has been registered,” Chaibi told a webinar jointly organized by Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka and Colombo Chamber of Commerce. 

Reiterating their concerns on the import restrictions imposed by the Sri Lankan government, the ambassador stressed the need to rethink the move.  “The import restrictions imposed by Sri Lanka are understood in the context of the balance of payments. It is clear, but it would be better if the rules of the WTO were respected,” asserted Chaibi who also pointed out that trade between the two countries has always been in favour to Sri Lanka, which it has “no problem” with.

However, he pointed out there are serious imbalances exacerbated by import restrictions that have not been formally notified by the WTO. For Sri Lanka, the regulation that governs the current GSP scheme expires on 31 December 2023. However, discussions were taking place regarding the future of the EU GSP regulation, with a number of different options and scenarios explored by the EU which included the continuation of the scheme as it is; a discontinuation of any GSP arrangement; and fine-tuning the existing regulation. (DM)

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