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Sri Lanka exporters warned to cope, if GSP+ is lost

April 09, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is making every effort to extend European Union trade concessions but local producers should also find ways to increase exports without the tariff benefit known as GSP+, officials said. "To get tariff benefits we will do everything we can do, but we will not give away sovereignty," Sri Lanka's president Mahinda Rajapakse said Tuesday at a ceremony at the central bank.

"If some benefits are lost from EU our private sector should improve productivity and face the challenge."

The President said behind the efforts to stop GSP+ facilities were politicians and 'terrorist friendly' non-government organizations.

"The private sector should tell their friendly politicians," President Rajapakse said.

"They should also be aware."

The EU has asked Sri Lanka to have enabling legislation to make the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the country has already signed, effective in Sri Lanka.

The Central Bank said in its annual report that the GSP+ was 'non-reciprocal' in that unlike a bi-lateral free trade agreement (FTA) no tariff reductions was expected from Sri Lanka.

"The economic gains that are realized from FTAs and the GSP+

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