June 6, 2006 (LBO) – A European Union delegation is due to visit Sri Lanka next week to discuss the renewal of trade concessions for exports, especially apparel, into the EU, a government minister said. The GSP Plus facility keeps over 350,000 people in direct employment in garment factories in Sri Lanka, Ambassador to the EU Ravinath Aryasinha was quoted as saying in a foreign ministry statement.
However, the industry is worried it might lose the trade concessions because of concern over human rights abuses in the war against the Tamil Tigers.
Sri Lanka was denied a seat on the UN Human Rights council last month after sustained criticism by western governments and human rights groups of its human rights record.
Sri Lanka’s main opposition, the United National Party, recently blamed the government of delaying submission of its application for the renewal of the GSP Plus scheme.
However, Pieris told reporters the deadline for submission of applications was 31st October 2008.
“These applications have to be made not now but before the 31st of October, there are five more months left,” the minister said.
“Next week a high level delegation is coming to Colombo from Bruss