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* Sri Lanka renegotiating GSP+ on legitimate reasons
Thu, Feb 25, 2010, 08:48 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 25, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government said today that it is attempting to renegotiate the European Union's Generalized System of Preferences plus (GSP+) tariff concession purely on legitimate reasons.

Addressing a media briefing held at the Government Information Department today, the government spokesman Minister of Export Development and International Trade Prof. G.L. Peiris said the government will continue to benefit from the trade agreement for another six months.

"We have six months more from February 15 before it lapses and until then we will be benefiting from the GSP + facility," the Minister said.

"Certain groups are trying to create a wrong impression about it saying we have already lost these concessions," the Minister added.

The European Union on February 15 decided to withdraw the preferential tariff benefits given to Sri Lanka following an investigation by the European Commission which found that the country fell short in implementing three UN human rights conventions required to receive benefits under the scheme.

However, the EU says the suspension was temporary and will take effect in six months time, giving Sri Lanka extra time to address the problems identified during the EU investigation.

The EU says its objective was to use GSP+ as an incentive to bring about the improvements in the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and it will monitor the progress during the next six months.

Once sufficient progress has been made the Commission will reevaluate and suggest the member states to restore the tariff benefit.

Sri Lankan government says that the suspension is unfair because the EU investigation was done when the country was at war against the Tamil rebels and the situation is much improved since the conclusion of the war.

Prof. Peiris said the government will continue to engage with European Commission to retain GSP+ concessions within certain parameters determined by Sri Lanka and EC has agreed to discuss further on its impending termination.

The Minister also asserted that Sri Lanka is not prepared to betray its sovereignty solely for the sake of regaining the European Commission GSP+ tariff concession.

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