Sri Lanka agro-exports under threat if GSP+ is lost: exporter

June 19, 2008 (LBO) – A top Sri Lankan fruit and vegetables exporter which is pushing commercial agriculture in the poorest areas of the island says a withdrawal of European trade concessions would hit the high value agro export sector. The group also exports Spanish peppers, silver-skin onions as well as other fruits and vegetables including mangoes, banana, jak fruit, melon and cashew.

The Generalized System of Preferences plus (GSP+) concessions which were awarded to Sri Lanka are coming up for renewal in October this year.

The European Union has warned that concession renewal depends on the implementation of civil and political rights conventions in the island.

The Hayleys group, whose unit HJS Condiments claims top spot with 34 percent of total fruit and vegetable exports of the island, says the industry would be badly hit if the EU withdraws concessions.

“Should the country become ineligible to receive the benefits of this scheme, this sector faces the prospect of having 8 to 14 percent in duty placed on its exports to Europe,” the group said in a review in its annual report.

The biggest beneficiary of trade concessions is Sri Lanka’s garment sector.

Sunfrost, another Hayleys unit, exports pickled Gh