Sri Lanka women workers to face brunt of EU GSP loss

Sept 20, 200 (LBO) – Women workers would be hardest hit if the European Union withdraws duty free market access to Sri Lankan exports, given to countries that meet a governance and a rights threshold set by the trade bloc. The potential loss of the GSP Plus duty concession could lead to job losses if Sri Lankan factories lose orders from European buyers reluctant to pay import duty on the island’s products.

“If the EU is serious about helping Sri Lanka to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals, GSP Plus would be a great facilitator,” Sunil Wijesinha, a former head of the Sri Lanka Ceramics Council.

Empowerment of women and poverty reduction are key aims of the MDG while the GSP incentive itself is meant to improve market access to developing countries to increase employment and export earnings, he said.

Ceramic exports are one of the main products from Sri Lanka that benefit from the market access given by the GSP Plus scheme.

Under GSP Plus, Sri Lanka was among the top five beneficiary countries by volume of imports, according to 2007 trade statistics.

But ceramic manufacturers and other Sri Lankan industrialists like apparel exporters fear losing the incentive because of EU concern over huma