The European Union (EU) delegation to Sri Lanka on Tuesday said that it was advisable for the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to be patient with the application for GSP+ until there is a strong chance of regaining the tariff facility from the EU.
Paul Godfrey, the Chargé d' affaires of the EU delegation to Sri Lanka and the Maldives said the process of regaining the concession was rather condition-based instead of time-based.
“This is why we are advising them (GoSL) to wait with the application for GSP+ until the conditions are ready so the EU can annul the revoke of GSP+, we want to be confident. Normally it takes about eight months to the process of granting the access, assuming the access will be granted. Neither the EU nor the GoSL want the application to be rejected,” he said soon after the inauguration of the new premises in Colombo.
Mr. Godfrey said there need to be clear evidence to ensure that progressive measures have been taken to improve human rights and to achieve an irrevocable status to regain the concession.
Meanwhile, he said the GoSL had achieved a remarkable progress in reconciliation since coming into power 15 months ago and said would like to see further progress as well.
He further said they stand by the stance of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein on Sri Lanka, which he made saying the country has done well in improving reconciliation.
The premises of the EU delegation was ceremoniously inaugurated by visiting European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica and Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera.
EU Grants €38 million for development projects
After the inauguration, Commissioner Mimica announced the signing of two new support programmes between the European Commission and Sri Lanka worth €38 million in the field of rural development and trade in the country.
From the total grants, €30 million will go to the programme 'Integrated Rural Development in the Most Vulnerable Districts of the Central and Uva Provinces' while €8 million will go towards trade related assistance to help Sri Lanka to develop policies and improve market access, competitiveness and compliance with international standards.
“The new programme aims to support the country in its transition to becoming an upper middle income country,” the EU said.
During his visit, Commissioner Mimica was scheduled to meet Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera and other senior members of the Government. He will also meet with civil society representatives, including those working on women's empowerment, child rights, disappeared people and media freedom.
Commissioner Mimca met with Foreign Affairs Minister Samaraweera on Tuesday itself and had discussed a wide range of issues including possible lifting of Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing ban and restoration of GSP+. (Lahiru Pothmulla)