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Sri Lanka to re-apply for EU trade concession

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-01-30 14:54

COLOMBO - The Sri Lankan government on Friday said it will seek to obtain trade concession from the European Union which was withdrawn under the previous government.

The EU Trade concession known as GSP plus was withdrawn as the previous government headed by Mahinda Rajapakse failed to comply with certain human rights related regulations.

"We will send a high level delegation for discussions with the EU members but right now we are looking at the various alternatives," Deputy Economic Development Minister Dr. Harsha De Silva told Xinhua.

The EU withdrew the trade concession for Sri Lanka in 2010 and the move caused widespread panic in the economic and garment sectors with many garment factories being forced to shut down, raising the island's unemployment levels.

The country was awarded the GSP plus trade concession to facilitate its recovery following the Tsunami in 2004.

According to the EU, Sri Lanka was a major beneficiary of the trading opportunities offered by the GSP plus. Sri Lankan exports benefiting from these trade preferences were T-shirts and other clothing items, as well as fisheries products.

Sri Lanka gained about 150 million dollars annually due to preferential tariffs, according to trade estimates. The island's clothing industry being the main beneficiary, used the tax breaks to sell to high street retailers in Europe.

The new Sri Lankan government, under the leadership of Maithripala Sirisena has said the government will look at the avenues to re-apply for the trade concession following staggering losses to the country's economy.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, who concluded his two day trip to Brussels on Thursday, had held discussions with the European Commission to lift a ban on fishing exports to the EU, and he had also held discussions with the officials about the process of requalifying for the GSP plus tariff concession.

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