Blank Cheque

Nov 01, 2007 (LBO) – Tariff preferences available under European Union market access concessions are a ‘blank cheque’ for Sri Lankan exporters to penetrate sophisticated markets, trade officials said. Director of Commerce Kulatunga Perera said the EU’s Generalised System of Preferences Plus scheme will be reviewed in 2008 and that he was confident Sri Lanka will past muster on the key criteria of labour rights and economic vulnerabilities.

The scheme gives exporters duty free access to 27 EU countries.

It gives exporters an edge over rivals from countries like China who must pay high import duty, he told a workshop on using tariff preferences.

Under GSP Plus, the EU offered Sri Lanka zero duty concessions for 7,200 products.

The EU trading system has some 3,300 ‘sensitive products’ on which import duty is somewhat high, Perera said.

This includes fisheries products on which usual import duty is around 21-26 percent.

“If imported from Sri Lanka and it meets the rules of origin criteria, it can be imported with zero duty,” Perera said.

“When exporters obtain a certificate of origin from the Commerce department, it is like a blank cheque, given by the department an