Initial discussions with EU on GSP+ positive: Sri Lankan official

09:03, March 19, 2010      

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Initial discussion between the European Union (EU) and the Sri Lankan delegation pertaining to GSP+ trade concessions and other issues was positive, a senior government minister said on Thursday.

G.L. Peiris, minister of Export Development and International Trade told reporters that the EU had agreed to meet again for further discussions following preliminary talks held in Brussels on continuing with the GSP+ facility early this week.

Peiris said the Sri Lankan delegation told the EU that "the humanitarian catastrophe" predicted by some quarters in the aftermath of the end of the conflict was successfully averted, followed by an equally successful resettlement of war displaced civilians and the rehabilitation of the child soldiers.

He added that the delegation briefed the EU of the many positive economic and political developments taking place in Sri Lanka, with the end of the conflict situation.

"The EU remains committed to work with Sri Lanka to see whether the conditions for a reversal of such a decision are in place as a result of significant improvements on the effective implementation of the human rights conventions at issue," the minister noted.

The EU last month announced the temporary suspension of its trade concessions known as GSP+ to Sri Lanka.

The EU trade concessions mainly benefits Sri Lanka's apparel industry.

Sri Lanka received the GSP+ trade concession from the EU in 2005 after the tsunami hit the nation in Dec. 26, 2004.

The EU demanded Sri Lanka implement 27 covenants on civil and political rights and labor laws in order to qualify for the extension of the facility.

The EU had warned several times that Sri Lanka will loss the facility due to it's human rights violations especially during the military operations against Tamil tiger rebels in the last three years.

The Sri Lankan government maintained that EU conditions impinged on the island's sovereignty.

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