EU decides to suspend GSP

5 February 2010 03:31 pm - 39     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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(BRUSSELS) - EU nations have decided to suspend Sri Lanka's preferential trade status because of the island's human rights record and will make the formal move later this month, officials said Friday.

"European ambassadors have taken the decision. The EU Commission's investigation showed Sri Lanka has not demonstrated that it has taken the steps that would allow it to retain or regain the GSP+ status," a European diplomat said.

The European Union's Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GPS+) scheme gives 16 poor nations preferential access to the trading bloc in return for following strict commitments on a wide variety of social and rights issues.

However the suspension would not come into effect until six months later.

The decision to suspend the trade privileges was taken last week and is set to be endorsed by European finance ministers when they meet in Brussels on February 16, the diplomat said.

This is in part to allow manufacturers and traders to adjust to the new rules, but it also gives Colombo a fair opportunity to get the decision reversed.

"We will look to work with Sri Lanka to identify concerted steps and actions which could help us to plot the course together that would enable Sri Lanka to regain GS+" the diplomat said.

Sri Lanka's hawkish government has faced almost constant criticism over the past several years because of the way it has conducted a war against Tamil Tiger rebels.

Government forces have been accused of a host of rights violations including the indiscriminate killing of thousands of Tamil civilians, the murder of aid workers and the execution surrendering rebels.

The EU probe identified shortcomings in respect of three UN human rights conventions -- the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention against Torture and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Sri Lanka's ambassador to the EU said he hoped the formal decision would not be taken, arguing the country had changed for the better since the investigation was carried out.

Sri Lanka ended a decades-old internal conflict with Tamil Tiger rebels last May, and last month held a bitterly contested presidential election.

An EU official explained that the implementation of the suspension of the trade deal could be stopped within the next six months, but that would require a recommendation from the European Commission and subsequent agreement from the member states.

However it is currently felt that "Sri Lanka has not done enough to address the rights problems and fulfil the requirements for the special trade privileges," she told AFP.

Sri Lanka gains about 150 million dollars annually due to preferential tariffs, according to trade estimates. The island's clothing industry is the main beneficiary, using the tax breaks to sell to high street retailers in Europe.

Sri Lankan ambassador to the EU Ravinatha Aryasinha said Colombo "remains hopeful that better sense will prevail upon member countries of the EU who themselves have faced similar situations in their long history and are acutely conscious of the complexity of democracies fighting terrorism."

He said the EU investigation into rights in Sri Lanka was concluded last year before the end of the war against the Tigers, before it was possible to deal with the related problem of displaced people and before the recent elections in Sri Lanka.

"It's like taking the temperature of a patient when he has a fever and then pronouncing him dead ten months later after he has recovered and is doing well," he told AFP.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse on Thursday issued an independence day call for unity and reconciliation after his victory in the bitterly fought election. (AFP)

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  Comments - 39

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  • Friday, 05 February 2010 04:50 PM

    Well EU were you sleeping when the terrorists were killing civilians of Sri Lanka. You had no voice at the time. It has to be a hawkish governement to fight the terrorists. It had no way of coming into a diplomatic solution when the terrorists did not want to come for discussions. So what make you think the tamil tiger terrorists were innocent people who recruited child soldiers, used suicide bombers, funded terrorism, used credit cards of others faudulently and many more.
    The sad part is that there was no comments when the UK went to war in Iraq and killed over 500,000 civilians. As you know they are part of EU and you need to follow the Chilcot enquiry to know what goes on when UK and USA went to war in another country when there were no Weapons of Mass Distruction.
    The weapons of Mass Destruction used by the terrorists in Sri Lanka were the suicide bombers if I can say.
    EU its time you have a good think about the whole situation and give a ruling Sri Lanka deserves.

    Friday, 05 February 2010 04:51 PM

    defence secretary can answer for this now in the same way he did in recent BBC interview, I like to see even his chair could not hold him...

    Friday, 05 February 2010 04:53 PM

    suba anagathayak AJO

    Friday, 05 February 2010 04:55 PM

    Subama suba anagathayak?

    Friday, 05 February 2010 04:55 PM

    good lesson to SL. SL Govt. never respect human rights. Not today. More than Twenty years no human rights in SL.

    Friday, 05 February 2010 05:01 PM

    Till there are fools like AJ the "Maha Raja" will drag this contry to dictatorship. Don't be swalen heded men, can't you see what has happend to Zimbabwe, Myenmar?

    Friday, 05 February 2010 05:02 PM

    At last EU have given the signal for this govt and hope this is the tip of the iceberg of International community to let the GOSL to play on rules.

    The worst human rights record and thuggery and corruption can be eradicated only from this kind of actions from the IC.

    now.. lets export our undies to Libya/Iran/Venezuela/Myanmar/Nepal and North Korea the present regimes friends.

    Dr. Kumara K., Melbourne, Australia.

    Friday, 05 February 2010 05:04 PM

    Time for us to realize how to bring back democracy, to this country !

    Friday, 05 February 2010 05:22 PM

    Everyone needs to understand one simple fact: we need the support of both the USA and EU, to develop our country!

    Friday, 05 February 2010 05:37 PM

    This was expected! Just forget about the 'foreign bullies' and make Sri Lanka a better place!

    Friday, 05 February 2010 05:51 PM

    There is no use 'crying over spilt milk.' Now the government must try to work-out how to get this back. It's no use being arrogant!

    Friday, 05 February 2010 06:01 PM

    Dear Senanayaka, were you sleeping when the EU banned the LTTE? Try to admit the government's fault rather than putting all the blame on others ... why don't you try to think neutrally?

    Friday, 05 February 2010 06:12 PM

    Nutty professor GL said he will take the EU to court? He also said Sarath Fonseka cannot contest the election as he did not register as a voter? GL too, has now become a joker, like GeL! What a state of affairs!

    Friday, 05 February 2010 06:18 PM

    The USA have Barack Obama, Jonny Cash & James Hope! Sri Lanka have M. Rajapaksa, No Cash and No Hope!

    Friday, 05 February 2010 06:49 PM

    So ambassador, the 'patient' is 'alive and kicking' ? What about the 'plague' that he has contracted - gross violation of human rights ?

    Friday, 05 February 2010 06:58 PM

    These are 'weapons' in the Western 'arsenal' to control third word countires! Now it is time for Sri Lankans to learn to stand on thier own feet, if they wish to protect both their national independence and pride!

    Friday, 05 February 2010 06:59 PM

    "Oh no, it is another conspiracy," say the "patriots" !

    Sunday, 07 February 2010 03:40 AM

    When its the poor of the country that has to bear the loss of GSP you hail the President and says "Good for you". Don't be an idiot!

    Friday, 05 February 2010 08:26 PM

    SL should address the concerns raised by the EU !

    Friday, 05 February 2010 08:50 PM

    GSP+ is but one method by which they punish us, for things that they define as 'our errors.'

    Friday, 05 February 2010 03:42 PM

    EU go to hell.... we can live without damm GSP........ MR can protect us...... Palamuwa Maubima

    Friday, 05 February 2010 03:44 PM

    Look, we are not a poor nation any more.... we are middle income country..........

    Friday, 05 February 2010 03:44 PM

    If you want maharaja forget the GSP and 300,000 plus jobs, thats the message from EU.

    Friday, 05 February 2010 03:44 PM

    EU...Please don't make our poor girls unemployed. Don't punish them for a crime they didn't get involved !.

    Friday, 05 February 2010 03:46 PM

    EU must investigate human right violations in their own EU member countries.... rather than putting their fingers in to our country

    Friday, 05 February 2010 03:47 PM

    Act at least now to reverse it, President won it. so, he can ensure a free and fair general election.

    Friday, 05 February 2010 03:50 PM

    SUBA ANAGATHAYAK!

    Friday, 05 February 2010 03:54 PM

    This is a result of MR government's lack of so called 'Diplomatic skills'. Professor GL Peries who was responsible for this was a highly distinguished academic who couldn't convince his fellow members about the severity of this move and crack down continue.
    Pre-Election price reduction of consumer goods will have to be doubled, loss of poor decent people jobs will effect on their families and 70-77 hardship will emerge.
    With in next three months, you hardly find somebody who voted for MR

    Saturday, 06 February 2010 12:17 PM

    I agree with Senanayake. EU couintries supported the terrorists for their own benefit. We saw here in UK how Milliband and Vaz was trying to help the protesters and later proven the hunger striker was really getting his food from Bigmac. Then Milliband went quiet and he couldn't bully Sri Lanka. They may be wanting to get back to the issue but their labour government is in trouble with MP Expenses. Its a shame the first world is having MP Expenses scandal and trying to bully developing countries. Lets wait and see how much they can do in the future.

    Saturday, 06 February 2010 12:20 PM

    Well said Gajaba. The bullies are yet again wanting to start a row.

    Saturday, 06 February 2010 12:24 PM

    So they failed yet again to bring SL to heel, their canidate lost so it's back to finacial blackmail.
    SL should stay strong and do what's best for the country and not be the lap dog of the west

    Friday, 05 February 2010 10:09 PM

    Absolutely correct ... and import their human rights, democracy and good values of governance !

    Friday, 05 February 2010 04:09 PM

    This is the punishment we get for trying to show arrogance to the rest of the world. Lets see what excuse the KING will come up with now.

    Friday, 05 February 2010 04:14 PM

    GOD sake MR you should resigned.

    Saturday, 06 February 2010 12:56 PM

    Good on Mahinda!!!! The King Rules!!!!

    Friday, 05 February 2010 04:15 PM

    Suba Anagathayak

    Friday, 05 February 2010 10:42 PM

    This exposes the weakness of the GOSL. They talk like 'lions,' in front of poor innocent Sri Lankans, and behave like mice, in front of the EU. This government does not know how to deal with international pressure.

    Friday, 05 February 2010 10:59 PM

    'Suba Anagathayak' ? GSP+ ekatath keliya ...

    Friday, 05 February 2010 04:43 PM

    Are you SriLankan?
    Do you have any arrangement or suggestion related to the poor girls and boys in Textile industry?


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