Sri Lanka to send team for talks on GSP trade deal

May 06, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is to dispatch a team of officials to Brussels later this month to try to extend a key European Union trade deal that is to be withdrawn on human rights concerns, an official said. Foreign Minister Gamini Peiris told parliament the team for talks on May 20-21 will be headed by Treasury secretary P B Jayasundera and include the top bureaucrats of the foreign and justice ministries.

The move comes after the island’s parliament on Wednesday voted to scale back tough state of emergency laws that were first introduced 27 years ago to deal with the Tamil Tiger separatists.

The war ended last May with the Tigers being crushed.

The GSP Plus benefits are to end in August after a European Union decision to suspend the trade deal giving duty free access to European markets on concerns over alleged human rights abuses during the war.

A previous round of talks was held in March to try to extend the GSP deal which is critical for Sri Lankan exports, especially its main industrial export, garments, on which thousands depend for employment.