Sri Lanka faces trade deal suspension: EU

Dec 17, 2009 (LBO) – The European Union will recommend suspending a trade deal giving duty free access to Sri Lankan exports but hopes to reverse the decision following talks with the island’s government, its envoy said. European Union ambassador Bernard Savage said the European Council, its decision-making body, will “logically have to recommend suspension” of the GSP Plus trade deal with Sri Lanka.

An EU probe into human rights concerns on the island led to an adverse report that, under the rules governing the GSP Plus trade deal, obliges the European Council to recommend suspending the agreement, he said.

“The Council will recommend suspension of GSP Plus. We’re obliged to do so because of the report on the investigations which raised a number of concerns.

“But we are committed to pursuing a dialogue with the government which we hope will allow us to get the suspension reversed before it comes into force,” Savage told a news conference.

He said a suspension does not mean the duty free benefits given to Sri Lankan exporters will be withdrawn immediately.

This is because it would take 6-8 months for the suspension to become effective.

During this period further talks would be held between