Sri Lanka rejects EU trade deal: European lawmaker

Feb 25, 2011 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has told the European Union it does not want to renew a trade deal that was withdrawn over EU concerns about human rights abuses in the island’s ethnic war, a visiting EU lawmaker said. Jean Lambert, member of the European Parliament, said talks with Sri Lankan government officials indicated the island no longer wanted to renew the GSP plus trade deal giving duty free access to European markets.

“Our understanding from what the government is telling us is that for (the government) this is a closed book – it does not intend to put in a further application for GSP Plus,” she told a news conference Friday.

Lambert, a member of the Greens party of the UK, led a seven-member delegation of the European Parliament to Sri Lanka this week for talks with government leaders, opposition politicians and civil society representatives.

They also visited northern Sri Lanka to assess the situation after the end of the island 30-year ethnic war in 2009 and visited camps for refugees.

Lambert said the government wanted to put the GSP Plus issue behind it and develop fresh ties with the EU.

The GSP Plus deal was not renewed last year owing to EU concerns about human rights abuses i