Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Sri Lanka’s efforts to regain the coveted European Union (EU) Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) concessions have taken a positive turn as the country demonstrates compliance with the necessary regulations. Shobini Gunasekera, the Director-General of Europe and North America at the Foreign Ministry, expressed confidence in Sri Lanka’s progress following extensive talks with the EU.

During the 25th Session of the EU-Sri Lanka Joint Commission dialogue, the EU presented the new EU GSP Regulation, scheduled to be effective from January 1, 2024, for the next ten-year cycle. Gunasekera highlighted that countries currently receiving GSP+ benefits, including Sri Lanka, have a two-year window to reapply for these concessions and will continue to receive the benefits during this period.

To assess Sri Lanka’s compliance with international standards in human rights, labor rights, the environment, and good governance, the EU Commission will release the review report of the previous EU GSP+ next month. Additionally, the GSP+ monitoring report, containing an evaluation of Sri Lanka’s commitment to 27 Conventions, will be presented to the European Parliament and the European Council in the coming months.

Under the GSP+ scheme, the EU will eliminate import duties on over two-thirds of tariff lines for Sri Lankan exports. However, Sri Lanka will need to reapply for preferential status by the end of 2025 and demonstrate the implementation of its commitments to the 27 conventions.

The recent Joint Commission dialogue between Sri Lanka and the EU covered various areas, including reconciliation, human rights, trade, development cooperation, climate change and environment, sectoral cooperation, international security cooperation, and cooperation in multilateral fora. Notably, discussions also revolved around the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, aimed at enhancing democratic governance, as well as the amendment of the Gazette on the new Anti-Terrorism Bill, which will replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

Reconciliation efforts, the release of land and resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs), and the functioning of independent offices related to missing persons, reparations, unity, and reconciliation were also addressed during the talks.

In addition to the GSP+ concessions, Sri Lanka assured the EU of presenting a plan next month to lift import restrictions that currently hinder the entry of numerous European products into the Sri Lankan market. The country also updated the EU on the drafting of a new Fisheries Act to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices. Moreover, discussions were held regarding cooperation within the framework of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) to regulate and manage tuna in the region effectively.

Sri Lanka’s diligent efforts to comply with the EU’s requirements for GSP+ concessions, coupled with productive discussions on a range of topics, have positioned the country well to regain the coveted trade benefits. As Sri Lanka moves forward, it aims to solidify its commitment to international standards while fostering mutual cooperation with the EU.


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