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EU says it does not want Sri Lanka to lose GSP+ trade deal

Sept 22, 2008 (LBO) - A senior European Union official said it does not want Sri Lanka to lose GSP+ trade concessions but the island must meet eligibility criteria to continue duty free market access to Europe under the deal.

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Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, said the GSP Plus scheme had achieved its aims in Sri Lanka.

"We do not want Sri Lanka to lose GSP+, which has achieved its objectives in Sri Lanka and now benefits the country massively, with expanded trade with the EU and thousands of jobs," she said in an open letter released by the EU office in Colombo.

"This is exactly why it was created. Which other partners offer Sri Lanka such generous market access?"

Ferrero-Waldner said she was writing the letter because of continuing criticism of the EU in Sri Lanka and accusations that it was sympathetic to the Tamil Tigers, a charge she rejected.

She said GSP+ is based on clear criteria set out in an EU law, with beneficiary countries making a commitment to respect the principal requirement which is the ratification

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