Oct 16, Brussels: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe arrived in Brussels, Belgium Sunday for high level discussions with the European Union to commence the first round of discussions on renegotiating the GSP Plus agreement.
Upon arrival at the Renaissance Hotel, Brussels, Sri Lankan Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium greeted by Rodney Perera and several embassy officials.
The main objective of Prime Minister's visit to Brussels is to engage in crucial discussions with European Union to regain the withdrawn Generalized System of Preferences plus (GSP+) tariff concession facility to Sri Lanka.
The Premier is scheduled to meet the high profile Belgium leaders including Premier Charles Michel and Prince Laurent. He will also discuss with the Presidents and the high ranking officials of the European Union and the European Council.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe is expected to commence discussions with high-level officials of the European Commission, European Union and the European Parliament Monday.
EU's GSP+ tariff concession allowed Sri Lanka to sell over 7,000 products to the EU countries tax-free. Sri Lanka's garment industry, which provides direct employment for more than 270,000 workers benefitted most from the facility.
The EU citing Sri Lanka's human rights violations suspended the GSP+ tariff concession in February 2010. As a result, the island nation lost more than Rs. 800 million annually from apparel exports and some garment factories were forced to close while over 10,000 employees in the apparel sector lost their jobs.
If Sri Lanka successfully reverses the GSP+ suspension, Sri Lanka's currency reserves would increase from 10-20% through access to the European market amounting to a population of over 500 million people, the Prime Minister said.
Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, Law and Order and Southern Development Minister Sagala Ratnayake, Prime Minister's Secretary Saman Ekanayake, additional secretary Saman Athaudahetti, and special assistant Sandra Perera will accompany the Prime Minister on his visit.