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GSP + ‘A closed chapter’

The European Union representative in Sri Lanka has stated that aid to the country was “unlikely” to increase and trade concessions revoked from the country will not be reinstated, urging the country to “move on” from the issue.  

Bernard Savage, Head of the Delegation of the EU in Sri Lanka stated that,

“We have had no request from the government for a new facility.”

“To use the words of the Minister of External Affairs (GL Peiris) this is a closed chapter (in our relationship). The fact is that GSP+ was withdrawn and there has been no further discussion on that issue and Sri Lanka has not re-applied. We need to move on.

The statement comes as the withdrawal of the concessions from 2010 begins to take hold, with garment exports to the EU falling 10-15% this year, and further falls predicted.

Savage went on to note that Sri Lanka was yet to fulfill conditions on the Inter Convention on Civil and Political rights, commenting,

“I must further stress that the conditions in the GSP + is not about European rules but international rules subscribed by the countries themselves. It’s not our rules. It’s simply that for countries to benefit from GSP+ they should apply laws they have already subscribed for.

Rohan Abeykoon, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association, stated that the loss of GSP+ had hurt the small and medium sized exporters the most, commenting,

“It would be the loss of a critical mass where companies endemic to Sri Lanka and locally will lose while those with multinational connections will shift elsewhere and still survive… This is not a healthy trend”.

On the subject of aid to the country, Savage stated that “a new country strategy will also be prepared”, noting,

“We don’t expect to see a decrease in aid. (On the other hand) I think it is unlikely that there will be an increase but that’s because of constraints in our budget (crisis).”

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