The trade preferences granted to Sri Lanka under GSP+ consist of the full removal of duties on 66 per cent of tariff lines, including textiles and fisheries, entering the EU market. These have been granted “in exchange for the country's commitment to ratify and effectively implement 27 international conventions on human rights, labour conditions, protection of the environment, and good governance,” an official statement said.
EU’s GSP+ is designed to support developing countries by fostering their economic development through increased trade with Europe and providing incentives to take tangible measures towards sustainable development.
"Granting GSP+ to Sri Lanka aims to provide the opportunity to develop further economically, including creating more and better jobs for all Sri Lankans, on a sound foundation that advances human and labour rights, and in a manner that is environmentally sustainable. It is also a vote of confidence from the European Union that the Sri Lankan Government will maintain the progress it has made in implementing the international conventions,” said EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström.
If Sri Lanka continues to make the necessary progress, then the country has the chance to benefit from the scheme until it achieves Upper Middle Income country status for three consecutive years. On current trends, that should mean that Sri Lanka will benefit from GSP+ until at least 2021.
The EU is Sri Lanka's biggest export market accounting for nearly one-third of Sri Lanka's global exports. In 2016, total bilateral trade amounted to almost €4 billion, and EU imports from Sri Lanka amounted to €2.6 billion. The removal of import duties will provide a total of immediate benefits worth in excess of €300 million a year. However, the value of the scheme could be worth many times more, particularly if Sri Lanka uses the opportunity to diversify its economy. (RKS)
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