Sri Lanka will regain the GSP + concession sooner than expected, European Council President and former Poland Prime Minister Donal Tusk said, when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called on him at the European Council headquarters in Brussels yesterday.
He said that that European Union was pleased at the manner in which Sri Lanka’s political and social reforms and the economy is moving.
He commended the outstanding efforts, commitment and sacrifices made by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in restoring democracy in a country.
The European Union is Sri Lanka’s largest export market accounting for one fourth of all exports, of which garments constitute around 60 percent.
The EU consists of 28 powerful Western nations having a combined population of 500 million, and is the leading business dealer of the international trade, with nearly Euro 4,000 billion trade.
If trade concessions are restored to Sri Lanka, exporters will receive preferential access to the European market. Tusk said said that his organization is prepared to extend fullest cooperation in restoring the GSP+ concessions to Sri Lanka.
He assured to continue strengthening EU-Sri Lanka relations and trade and support the Sri Lankan government’s measures for good governance and reconciliation.
Sri Lanka has enjoyed GSP benefits from since the early 1970s., but lost access GSP+ since 2009, over human rights related issues.
Sri Lanka’s apparel sector took a severe beating as a result of losing access to the EU GSP + trade concession.
The new government, which took office last year, began talks with the EU to regain GSP+ and agreed to meet most of the conditions to obtain the facility. Sri Lanka reapplied for the EU GSP facility in June this year.
Most of Sri Lankan leading export products are included among the 7,500 products eligible for EU GSP. Prime Minister’s Chief-of-Staff and Law and Order and Southern Development Minister Sagala Ratnayake was also present.