June 22, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka will regain the GSP plus trade concession after the Human Rights Council sessions which are to be held in Geneva in September, Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe said.
The European Union withdrew the concessions in 2010 expressing deep concern over alleged human rights violations said to have occurred during the last stage of Sri Lanka’s 30 year civil war.
“We earlier thought that the concession applies only to apparel industry but eventually the fish products were also included in the tax concessions,” Wickramasinghe said.
“Now we are working on getting back the GSP plus after the Human Rights Council sessions which are to be held in Geneva in September by solving the existing issues.”
He was speaking at a public gathering in Kalpitiya, Puttalam.
The European Union issued ‘red card’ in October last year imposing restrictions on export of fish products to EU after authorities failed to comply with international rules on illegal fishing.
The ‘red card’ issued against Sri Lanka can be revoked only through a ‘green card’. In November 2012, the union issued a ‘yellow card’ warning Sri Lanka.
The union charged Sri Lanka for authorizing huge vessels to fish in the Indian Ocean without marine GPS (Vessel Monitoring System).
“We signed an agreement with a company providing these services. We have already installed the necessary equipment in 165 fishing boats and are expecting to install another 400 in the coming weeks.” Wickramasinghe said.
Prime Minister also urged fishermen to allow the company to install ‘transponders’ inside their boats to speed up the process.
The European Union enforces international rules in order to eradicate illegal fishing, which is detrimental to the stocks and fishermen worldwide.
“The European Union said we have violated 57 procedures over the last two years. Currently we have successfully completed 36 processes out of these 57,”
“We are to hold discussions with the European Union in September and October and will be able to regain the fishing concession before the end of this year.” Wickramasinghe said.
By last year, Sri Lanka was the second biggest exporter of fresh and chilled swordfish and tuna to the European Union with 74 million Euros of exports in 2013.