EU restores preferential tax concessions to Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka will stand to gain from an export growth of Euros 300 million per year from Friday May 18 when the GSP +trade concessions to the bloc becomes effective.

The EU is Sri Lanka’s largest export market and a year ago, exports from the island nation to the EU were valued at 2.6 billion euro ($2.87 billion).

EU Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Tung-Lai Margue told reporters in Colombo a day after Sri Lanka successfully navigated the GSP Plus application process.

“Granting GSP+ to Sri Lanka aims to provide the opportunity to develop further economically, including creating more and better jobs for all Sri Lankans, on a sound foundation that advances human and labour rights, and in a manner that is environmentally sustainable”. It is also a vote of confidence from the European Union that the Sri Lankan Government will maintain the progress it has made in implementing the global conventions.

The ambassador said torture and the prevalence of a draconian anti-terror law are among problems needing attention and the European Union will monitor Sri Lanka’s progress.

Sri Lanka’s military has been long accused of serious human rights violations, especially during a decades-long civil war with separatist ethnic Tamil rebels.

Sri Lanka earlier lost GSP plus status over its failure to comply with 27 worldwide conventions. The new administration of Maithripala Sirisena reapplied for the tariff concession after coming to power in 2015.

The trade benefit is being granted following many technical and political deliberations between the European Union (EU) and the island after it was suspended in 2010 on account of serious human rights and other issues.

However, it also said the removal of customs duties for Sri Lanka will be accompanied by rigorous monitoring.

The concessions can be used until Sri Lanka achieves the status of an “upper middle income country” for three consecutive years.

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