News

Sri Lanka’s exports to EU: EU monitoring mission in SL by end-Sept.

  • EU’s GSP+ trade concessions to SL under scrutiny  
  • EU Comm. report to EU Parliament/Council in early 2022  
  • Lankan EU Envoy warns of dire export situation  

 BY Yoshitha Perera  

The European Union (EU) is currently monitoring the situation with regard to the Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) trade concessions with its member states, and they expect to commence a monitoring mission in Sri Lanka by the end of September 2021, The Sunday Morning learnt.  

Speaking to The Sunday Morning, EU Delegation to Sri Lanka Head Denis Chaibi said that the EU is currently at an advanced stage in the GSP+ monitoring cycle for the years 2020-2021.  

He added: “This will lead to a report from the EU Commission to the European Parliament and European Council (our member states) in early 2022.” 

Chaibi further explained that GSP+ is an ongoing monitoring process and that the EU is in regular contact with the Sri Lankan Government in this regard.  

“We expect a monitoring mission in Sri Lanka towards the end of September.” 

While expressing deep concern over Sri Lanka’s alarming path towards the recurrence of grave human rights violations, the European Parliament had drawn attention to such through a resolution on 10 June, calling for the abolition of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act, No. 48 of 1979 (PTA).  

The European Parliament also requested the EU to initiate a procedure for the temporary withdrawal of Sri Lanka’s GSP+ status and the benefits afforded by it, subsequent to the said resolution.   

Currently, the Sri Lankan Government is in a situation where international partners are having profound concerns over the Government’s decision-making process.  

As per the views stated at the European Parliament in June, the state of human rights in Sri Lanka has been gradually weakening and the Government is showing limited progress. It also highlighted and stated concerns over the accelerating militarisation of civilian governmental functions, the reversal of important constitutional safeguards, the political obstruction of accountability, rhetoric to the effect of the exclusion of the minorities, the intimidation of the civil society, and the use of anti-terrorism laws. 

In a recent webinar titled “GSP+: Past, Present, Future” which was organised by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka and the Colombo Chamber of Commerce, Sri Lankan Ambassador to the EU Grace Asirwatham stated that exports to the region were in an unfavourable position and warned that Sri Lanka would lose not only GSP+ but the export market in the region.  

Explaining the current situation further, Ambassador Asirwatham stressed that Sri Lanka had the lowest utilisation of 67.75% compared with the eight other GSP+ beneficiary countries that apply the facility for over 90% of tariff concessions.

Several attempts to contact Foreign Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris or Regional Co-operation State Minister Tharaka Balasuriya proved futile.