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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2588

The Government urged to be flexible in dealing with the extension of GSP+

Colombo, 31 October, (Asiantribune.com): Kelly Senanayake, General Secretary of the Prayathna People’s Movement (PPM) has called upon the Sri Lanka government to show flexibility in dealing with the extension of GSP+ facility which is decisive for the economic development of the country.

In a press statement Kelly Senanayake said, “We are compelled to make this request to the government as the Foreign Minister has officially informed the European Union that Sri Lanka will not agree for an investigation on granting the GSP+ facility. He added that this announcement of the government has brought a serious situation that could trigger a negative impact on the GSP+ facility to Sri Lanka.

“The GSP+ facility provides for duty free market access to the EU. According to this facility 6421items are exempted from duties. GSP+ facility is mainly for the garment exports, “ the statement add.

The statement released by the Praythana People’s Movernment further said:

“The present crisis came to the fore amidst questions raised such as whether Sri Lanka is eligible to continue to receive the facility in the future. The European Union has raised three issues in this regard. They are namely whether Sri Lanka effectively implements the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, Convention against Torture as well as the Convention on Rights of the Child. The EU has decided that there are sufficient grounds for initiating an investigation on Sri Lanka to determine whether the country has effectively implemented these three specific conventions. The government rejected this investigation categorically. The view of the government is that if such an investigation is allowed it would be a violation of the sovereignty of the country.

“If the GSP+ facility is withdrawn considering the stand of the government, it would cause serious damage to the economy. Sri Lankan exports to the EU markets in 2007 are US$ 2.5 billion. It is 33 % of the total exports. 47% of the exports to the European Union are garments. It is crystal clear that the main market for our apparel is the EU. Sri Lanka also exports fisheries products, ornamental fish, fruits and vegetables, ceramics, bicycle components, leather and rubber products etc.

“If the GSP+ facility is abolished more than one hundred thousand jobs will be lost only in apparel industry. It has been revealed in a study made by Sussex University in Great

“Britain using econometric model that a loss of 2% our Gross Domestic Product could occur, if GSP+ is withdrawn. Although the government says that relief would be provided to protect the apparel industry, it is a doubtful whether this could be practically possible to implement when considering the presently looming national and international economic crisis.

“On the one hand, the foreign exchange earning of the country is in decline owing to the crisis in the world economy. In addition to this, the apparel industry will be facing a serious threat in the future. This is due to countries such as China and India have decided to grant rebate for their apparel goods. In such a situation the prices of these countries’ exports to European Union will be lower, then it would be difficult for Sri Lanka to compete in the EU markets since our prices would be high. If the GSP+ is withdrawn this situation would become worse. The tea production has already faces a crisis situation. In this back round if the GSP+ facility is withdrawn it would be impossible to recover the economy. On the other, the EU has asked only to respect the internationally accepted decent norms, especially the laws of human rights.

“The government repeatedly says that these rights have not been violated and these rights were enshrined in our constitution. If it is so, it is difficult to understand why the government opposes an investigation. It is clear that this decision was taken bowing to the pressure of extremist forces. We wish to point out that the intransigent attitudes towards the international community that were followed in the recent past have led to the country to disrepute.

The Prayathna People’s Movement calls upon the government to review its stand considering the fact that this would affect not only the economy but also cause of losing jobs of more than one hundred thousand workers in the apparel industry and other sectors. If the government acts with flexibility it is not too late gain the GSP+ facility. “

- Asian Tribune –

Also Read:

* EU wants to examine GSP+ related issues and its is not for investigation, says EU Parliamentarian

* Sri Lanka rejects EU investigation for GSP + extension

* Sri Lanka will not submit to any investigation to obtain GSP Plus concessions

* Sri Lanka needs GSP Plus concessions, but not at the expense of country’s sovereignty

* Sri Lanka urges for the continuation of GSP facilities to the new European Union presidency

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