EU presses Sri Lanka on reforms for continued market access
ECONOMYNEXT – The European Union has insisted Sri Lanka continue with promised reforms like replacing an anti-terrorism law, under commitments to implement international conventions to enjoy duty free market access, at a recent meeting.
The EU also reiterated its opposition to the use of the death penalty that Sri Lanka wants to revive, at the 22nd session of the European Union – Sri Lanka Joint Commission Thursday in Brussels.
A statement said Sri Lanka reaffirmed at the meeting commitments made to implement 27 conventions on human and labour rights, environment and good governance in order to benefit from the GSP+ scheme giving duty-free access to EU markets.
“In this context, while acknowledging that the new draft legislation was now being considered by Parliament, the EU reiterated the need to repeal and replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in order to bring counterterrorism legislation in line with international standards.
”The EU also reiterated its opposition to the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and encouraged Sri Lanka to maintain its moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty,” the statement said.
Bearing in mind the resilience of the democratic institutions which had prevailed during the political events in Sri Lanka late 2018, the EU reiterated its full support for the government’s efforts to improve governance, human rights and reconciliation, fight against corruption, and strengthen economic growth.
Preferential access to the EU market granted to Sri Lanka under the GSP+ scheme has benefitted the country since the reintroduction in May 2017, with over 2.2 billion euro of exports under GSP+ during the period June 2017–May 2018.
“Both sides acknowledged that there was room to make even better use of the concessions granted,” the statement said.
The EU also stressed the need for further progress in the advancement of national reconciliation.
The EU and Sri Lanka also agreed to hold talks on the EU strategy on Connecting Europe and Asia, which aims to better connect Europe and Asia through transport links, energy networks, digital networks, and people-to-people connections.
The Joint Commission also noted that the European Investment Bank can enhance lending in Sri Lanka in the field of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
It will particularly support renewable energy, energy efficiency, urban transport, and other investments, which reduce CO2 emissions or strengthen resilience to climate change.
(Colombo/February 15/2019 – SB)