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The European Commission today proposed that the remaining import duties on Sri Lankan products should be removed by the European Union in order for Sri Lanka’s commitment to ratify and effectively implement 27 international conventions on human rights, labour conditions, protection of the environment and good governance.

Issuing a communiqué the European Commission said the one-way trade preferences would consist of the full removal of duties on 66% of tariff lines, covering a wide array of products including textiles and fisheries.

The preferences would come under a special arrangement of the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences or GSP+.

According to the statement arrangements such as this are designed to support developing countries by fostering their economic development through increased trade with Europe and providing incentives to take tangible measures towards sustainable development.

The European Commission added the European Parliament and the Council have now up to four months to raise potential objections before the measures become effective.

Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said “GSP+ preferences can make a significant contribution to Sri Lanka’s economic development by increasing exports to the EU market.

But this also reflects the way in which we want to support Sri Lanka in implementing human rights, rule of law and good governance reforms.

I am confident of seeing timely and substantial further progress in these areas and the GSP+ dialogue and monitoring features will support this reform process.

This should include making Sri Lankan counter-terrorism legislation fully compatible with international human rights conventions.”

The Commission added as is the case for all GSP+ countries, the removal of customs duties for Sri Lanka would be accompanied with rigorous monitoring of the country’s progress in the area of sustainable development, human rights and good governance.

Sri Lanka had already benefited from GSP+ in the past.

In 2010 the EU suspended the preferential treatment for Sri Lankan imports due to the failure to address alleged human rights violations in the country.

The good governance government applied for GSP+ in July 2016 while the Commission’s assessment concluded that it met the GSP+ entry criteria set out in the EU regulation.

The EU is Sri Lanka’s biggest export market accounting for nearly one-third of Sri Lanka’s global exports.

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