By Jamila Najmuddin
The European Union says that it will continue talks with Sri Lanka on the GSP+ trade concessions but refused to speculate if Sri Lanka is likely to continue enjoying the trade benefits till the negotiations are over.
EU Ambassador in Sri Lanka Bernard Savage told Daily Mirror online that the Commission in Brussels was looking into the GSP+ trade benefits for Sri Lanka and had decided to continue the talks with the Sri Lankan government but added that it he could not speculate whether Sri Lanka could regain the trade concessions.
“By commenting on whether the GSP+ could be regained, I would be going ahead of the continuing process. It is not for me, at this stage, to indulge in questions of probability. What I see right now is that there is a common objective to continue the talks. I do not want to speculate anything right now,” Savage said.
External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris said yesterday that Sri Lanka could still avoid the withdrawal of European Union trade concessions over its human rights record following two rounds of talks with Brussels.
Minister Peiris told Reuters in an interview that a team of Sri Lankan officials had made two trips to Brussels, the second of them at the end of last week, to discuss the trade preference and Sri Lanka's rights record.
No date for further talks had been set, but Colombo would be in touch with the EU, he said. "If they feel that any further clarification is necessary...we would certainly not be averse to sending a team ... to continue talks."
Minister Peiris said EU officials had praised Sri Lanka for relaxing wartime emergency rules earlier this month and for resettling in their home areas most of the almost 300,000 people who fled as the government moved in to crush the Tamil Tiger fighters. (Daily Mirror online)