Country seeks to extend GSP Plus agreement

September 01, 2009 - Sri Lanka

As the country has met all the required criteria for the extension of GSP Plus, the Department of Commerce in the Export Development and International Trade presented a comprehensive report to the European Union (EU) to extend the facility. The investigations in this direction are in progress.

The department will take its next step depending on the decision of the EU, which is expected to convey its decision on this matter by the end of this year. It said that Sri Lanka must comply with the International Covenants of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the country has already signed.

Sri Lanka has complied with the criteria on good governance, work ethics, environmental protection which are matters of concern to the EU. The government is taking all the possible measures to protect human rights abuses.

The apparel sector that is going through a challenging phase these days due to economic slowdown, but would attain great heights again as the major players of this industry were already prepared for the change. GSP Plus is a trade concession by the EU to Sri Lanka in order to assist country’s garment industry, which was last year’s top foreign currency generator.

The industry has also augmented the export revenue since mid-2005. Last year, due to this scheme, the country was able to generate $2.9 billion from the EU market, almost 37.5 percent of country’s total export income. The extension of the GSP Plus will protect about 0.28 million direct and one million indirect employment in Sri Lanka.

All these factors make it important that Sri Lanka gets extension of GSP Plus. Last year, garment industry earned US$ 2.5 billion of foreign exchange, followed by tea exports that brought in US$ 1 billion to the country, which exported US $2.8 billion worth of products to the EU.

The apparel sector of the country was the biggest beneficiary of this trade agreement and the sectors such as fisheries and industrial products also took the advantage of the GSP Plus. Maximum products exported under the GSP Plus were apparels, which were valued at US$ 1.4 billion.