Sri Lanka’s GSP+ process on the right track: EU Commissioner

Mar 16, 2016 (LBO) – The European Union has noted progress made by Sri Lanka on GSP+ criteria and supports renewed application, a senior EU official said.

With the election of the new government Sri Lanka intends to apply for tariff preferences provided under the special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance (GSP+) of the European Union.

“Now is the correct time – it is visible that democracy and reconciliation are top priorities of the newly elected government,” Neven Mimica,  European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development told reporters in Colombo Tuesday.

“So it is the common will of the EU to grant this.”

However he says that it is the government’s decision when to apply for the GSP+ trade benefit from the European Union.

“We will work together for an early application. The approval process takes about 10 – 12 months.”

“The process is on track and a meeting will take place in April when a delegation from the EU comes.”

He was speaking at the ceremonial inauguration of the delegation premises of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

In Singapore Harsha de Silva, deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, told investors at the Sri Lanka Investment Summit held on Tuesday that he was 100 percent confident that Sri Lanka could obtain GSP plus status this year.

Meanwhile, the European Commission co-signed two new support programmes worth 38 million Euros.

“Now our focus is on providing long-term support towards poverty reduction and local economic development. We have a new opportunity to support governance and reconciliation efforts and help address the root causes of the conflict in Sri Lanka,” Mimica said.

30 million Euros will go to the programme ‘Integrated Rural Development in the Most Vulnerable Districts of the Central and Uva Provinces’ with the aim to improve livelihoods and household incomes, as well as access to drinking water and healthcare services for the most vulnerable of the population.

8 million Euros will go towards trade related assistance to help Sri Lanka reap the benefits of further integration into the global and regional trading system which will help the country develop relevant policies, and improve their market access, competitiveness and compliance with international standards.

During his visit, Commissioner Mimica will hold a series of high-level meetings, including with President Maithripala Sirisena, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other senior members of the Government while also meeting with civil society representatives, including those working on women’s empowerment, child rights, disappeared people and media freedom.