ECONOMYNEXT – Any reversal of over 500 million US dollar worth European Union trade concession for Sri Lanka could be met through policy measurements and deal with if such a situation arises, Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal said .
Sri Lanka is facing the risk of losing the EU’s Generalized Systems of Preference Plus (GSP+) trade concession from April next year if the government does not take drastic measures to address human rights concerns as the island nation had promised to fulfill when the facility was given back in 2017.
The GSP+ helped the island nation’s garments to bring over 5 billion US dollar export revenue.
“We believe that the impact of any reversal could be met with the policy measures that we would take in such an event,” Cabraal told a press briefing on October 14 when he was asked the size of the GSP+ trade concession.”
“Therefore we have assured all the stakeholders that we would be able to deal with that situation in case there is any necessary to deal with it and we would not hesitate to do that as well.”
Sri Lanka has had problems with rule of law and freedoms of citizens with the deterioration the independence of the civil service and judiciary over several decades amid tinkering of the constitution to favour the state and rulers over un-armed citizens, critics have said.
Sri Lanka is a European style nation-state with a legislating parliament, standing army and police but the institutions of liberty that should stand between the armed state and the people have weakened according to freedom advocates.
The European parliament adopted a resolution on June 10 calling for the repeal of Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and inviting the European Union (EU) Commission to consider temporarily withdrawing access to GSP+.
A five-member European Union (EU) delegation reviewed the island nation’s human rights situation while discussing with all the stakeholders of the GSP+ beneficiaries renewed concerns about the country’s human rights situation.
The EU is the secnd largest export destination for Sri Lankan products, and GSP+ has helped the country’s exporters to consolidate their position.
Sri Lanka lost the GSP+ in 2010 due to alleged human rights violations including war crimes in the final stage of the 26-year war that ended in 2009.
However, the commitment by the previous government to the international community to address human rights concerns in 2015 helped the country to regain the facility.
Small and medium sector garments and outsourced industries related to garment exporters faced closure after the GSP+ was withdrawn in 2010, but the industry rebounded later even without the trade concession. (Colombo/Oct14/2021)