Sri Lanka’s GSP+ application was approved by the Council of Ministers of the European Union (EU) Thursday evening resuming the much-awaited trade concession to the country, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Harsha de Silva said.
He said the concession would come into effect in less than two weeks. “It would only take 10 or 12 days for the EU to issue a gazette making it the law now. This is a huge victory for the government of Sri Lanka as well as the exporters of the country,” Dr. de Silva told Daily Mirror.
It was only in late April a resolution submitted by a group of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) saying that the GSP+ should not be granted to Sri Lanka, was defeated by a majority of votes in the European Parliament in Belgium.
A total of 436 members voted against the resolution while 119 voted in favour. Twenty two members abstained from voting on the resolution.
Dr. de Silva was also in Belgium to assist the Sri Lankan mission in laying groundwork to defeat the resolution.
Upon returning on April 29, the Deputy Minister said that regaining the GSP+ trade concession should be used as a platform for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU.
“The GSP+ concession will be in practice for four years at most. This is why we need to sign a FTA with the EU,” Dr. de Silva told a news briefing held at the Foreign Ministry.
The GSP+ allows a developing country to pay less or zero duties on its exports to all 28 EU member-states.
The EU withdrew the GSP+ trade facility given to Sri Lanka in 2010 owing to ‘significant shortcomings’ in respect of the country’s implementation of three UN human rights conventions relevant to qualify for the benefits under the scheme. (Lahiru Pothmulla)