US reviews Lanka's GSP

The US government has accepted a petition filed by an American trade union requesting a review of worker rights in Sri Lanka. The move also means a review of the US GSP benefits for Sri Lanka, the US Embassy in Colombo said.

In 2008, as part of the annual review process, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), an American trade union, filed a petition with the US Government requesting a review of worker rights in Sri Lanka. 

The AFL-CIO resubmitted an updated petition last year.  Any person may file a request to review the designation of any beneficiary country with respect to any of the designation criteria  The US Embassy shared the document with the Government of Sri Lanka several months ago.

The U.S. Government’s acceptance of the petition would mean there will be a public hearing, likely held in August, to discuss the worker rights issues raised by the AFL-CIO petition and the Government of Sri Lanka will be invited to participate in the hearing.

Beginning before the hearing, the United States and Sri Lankan government will engage in a dialogue on any areas of concern with respect to worker rights. 

“Acceptance of the petition is not a decision to revoke GSP nor does it set a deadline for a decision on action on GSP privileges.  It is the beginning of a formal, collaborative process to work with the Sri Lankan government to address the concerns in the petition and work to improve support of and adherence to worker rights.  GSP privileges will continue throughout the process,” the US Embassy said.

The U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), a program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world, provides preferential duty-free treatment for over 3,400 products from 131 designated beneficiary countries and territories, including Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka benefited from GSP treatment on approximately $116 million of goods in 2009.  Products covered under the GSP program include: machinery, electrical goods, chemical products, agricultural products, jewelry and much more.  Most textiles and apparel are not eligible for preferential benefits under the program. (Daily Mirror online)

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