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EU expresses fears over Rajapaksa’s policies and warns of GSP+ removal

The European Union’s ambassador to Sri Lanka warned that Colombo may be stripped of trade concessions, following a week of political turmoil that saw Mahinda Rajapaksa, who led a military offensive that massacred tens of thousands of Tamils, appointed prime minister.

Speaking on the Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) trade concessions EU ambassador to Sri Lanka, Tung-Lai Margue, told Reuters,

“The government got GSP on the basis of certain commitments, if these commitments are not met, then we would consider withdrawal”.

Margue was amongst a group of diplomats who met with current Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena earlier this week, to discuss the crisis in Colombo. 

Rajapaksa’s regime has denied it committed human rights violations and for years vehemently fought against UN resolutions on accountability.

Speaking on Rajapaksa, Margue said, “I don’t know what his policy on reconciliation would be like... I have fears it won’t be the one we agreed on”.

The EU remains Sri Lanka’s biggest export market, and since regaining the GSP+ concessions in 2017, exports to the region jumped almost 18 percent. Fish exports had jumped 100 percent, Margue added, noting that the year had not even finished yet.

The removal of the concessions would be a blow to Sri Lanka’s economy, which is continuing to struggle with debt and a foreign exchange crisis.

See more from Reuters here.