Sri Lanka told no unconditional extension of EU trade benefits

Chandi Dharmaratne

June 22, 2010 (LBO) – The European Union will not unconditionally extend the GSP Plus trade deal giving Sri Lankan exporters duty free access to European markets, the EU Delegation in Colombo said. The EU is ready to extend the GSP Plus deal for a limited period when it is set to end on August 15 if the Sri Lankan government makes specific human rights commitments, it said in a statement.

The GSP Plus deal is to expire in August after the EU refused to extend it owing to concerns over human rights abuses in the island.

The Sri Lankan government has rejected charges of human rights abuses and maintains it meets the EU conditions to quality for continued benefits under the GSP Plus deal.

The Delegation in Colombo issued the statement in response to media reports that the EU had decided to extend the deal for a limited period.

Contrary to these articles, the date of 15 August on which Sri Lanka would cease to benefit from GSP+ will not be extended unconditionally, the statement said.

The European Commission has told the Sri Lankan government it is ready to propose to the Council of the European Union to maintain GSP plus preferences for Sri Lanka for a limited additiona