Apr 23, 2017

EU parliamentary group tables resolution against granting GSP+ to Sri Lanka Featured

An European Parliamentary group has tabled a resolution in the European Parliament against granting the Generalized System of Preferences plus (GSP+) tariff concession to Sri Lanka saying that Sri Lanka's government's reform efforts are not adequate to grant the tariff concession.

The group, Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) of 52 Members of European Parliament (MEPs) in their submission says that the government's reform efforts, including those that directly relate to the GSP+ criteria, have not yet delivered in their purpose to comply with the international conventions.

In the motion for resolution submitted, the GUE/NGL urges the European Parliament to forward the resolution to the European Commission and to notify it that the delegated regulation to grant the GSP+ to Sri Lanka cannot enter into force.

The European Commission has examined Sri Lanka's request for GSP+ treatment and established that Sri Lanka meets the eligibility criteria for the trade concession.

Further to the decision to grant GSP+ preferences to Sri Lanka, the Commission will keep under review the status of ratification of the relevant conventions and their effective implementation by Sri Lanka, as well as its cooperation with the relevant monitoring bodies.

The EU parliamentary group in their motion citing the recent UN Human Rights Council Report says while the government of Sri Lanka has taken some positive steps towards improving human rights the measures taken by Sri Lanka since October 2015 have been "inadequate to ensure real progress", and the fulfilment of commitments has been "worryingly slow".

It says the process of repealing and replacing the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) has not yet been accomplished and the Sri Lankan government is suspected of not adequately tackling the culture of impunity by rewarding military officials accused of human rights violations with government positions.

The Motion states that the existing breaches of Human Rights in Sri Lanka raise concerns about the appropriateness of granting GSP+ status while there is inadequate real progress according to international bodies.

If 376 out of 751 MEPs voted for the resolution at the forthcoming plenary scheduled for 26-27th April its approval would see the non-granting of the concession which would have made Sri Lankan exports to the 28-member European Union (EU) cheaper and contributed to its export growth vital to boost external reserves.

Two of the MEPs of the group, Lola Sánchez Caldentey and Anne-Marie Mineur earlier his month visited Sri Lanka as part of a fact finding mission to evaluate the country's respect for labor rights prior to the European Union's decision on granting Sri Lanka preferential trade access.

Sri Lanka must adhere to core conventions of the International Labor Organization and deliver on its promise of guaranteeing employee rights if the country looks to regain its preferential trade status, Members of European Parliament (MEPs) said.

After three days of meetings with employees in Sri Lanka's Free Trade Zone factories, union leaders and Labor Minister John Seneviratne from April 10-12 the MEPs demanded Sri Lanka to adhere to core conventions of the International Labor Organization and deliver on its promise of guaranteeing employee rights if the country looks to regain its preferential trade.


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