Sri Lanka hold talks with EU on GSP+ trade concessions

Mar 26, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka are holding discussions on the retrieval of GSP Plus, a system granting tax free entry for the counties goods to the European Union market, the industry and commerce ministry said in a statement.

The industry and commerce ministry said earlier this week in Colombo that the talks were held following positive vibes from Europe.
“After the conclusion of the full day’s session between the 8 member EU delegation and Sri Lankan officials, a joint statement was issued saying that EU-Sri Lanka Working Group on Trade and Economic Cooperation held talks in a friendly and constructive atmosphere.”

The statement said that Sri Lanka and the EU discussed issues related to promoting bilateral trade and investment.

“In particular they started the process that may lead to the re-admission of Sri Lanka to the status of GSP+ under the EU’s new GSP regulation,” the joint statement said.

“They also discussed bilateral matters related to investment facilities, import duties and fishery exports from Sri Lanka to the EU.”

The EU decided to withdraw the GSP deal in August 2010 saying Sri Lanka had not complied with the eligibility criteria, such as implementing international human rights conventions, a charge Sri Lanka’s past regime has rejected.

The EU’s concerns on human rights were highlighted in a report on Sri Lanka’s eligibility for GSP Plus in October 2009.

Bilateral trade between EU and Sri Lanka stood at 5.07 billion US dollar in 2014, increasing by 3.6 percent from 2013’s 4.9 billion US dollars, data from Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka showed.

About 69 per cent of the EU-Lanka trade in 2014 were Lankan exports to EU.

Apparel, Sri Lanka’s topmost merchandise export earner, was the biggest export item in 2014 at 2.16 billion dollars up by 10.5 percent year on year data showed while rubber tyres & tubes stands as the second biggest which was at 208 million dollars and third biggest was ‘frozen fish’ at 90 million dollars.

The joint statement also said the EU and Sri Lanka reviewed progress in the WTO Doha Development Agenda negotiations and expressed their hope that the Trade Facilitation Agreement would enter into force at the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2015.

Sri Lanka’s proposal for possible funding in the areas of trade-related capacity building and development support for SMEs’ trade competitiveness in regional & EU markets under EU’s Regional Programming for Asia Multiannual Indicative Programme 2014-2020 is being favorably considered by the European Union, the statement further said.