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Sri Lanka confident of regaining key EU trade concessions GSP plus

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Sri Lanka confident of regaining key EU trade concessions GSP plus

Post by Backstage on Thu Apr 27, 2017 10:43 am

Sri Lanka confident of regaining key EU trade concessions
GSP plus

Xinhua - Sri Lanka on Wednesday said it was confident of regaining key EU trade concessions known as the GSP plus despite concerns raised by a few members of the European Parliament.

Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha De Silva in a statement said he had met with several members of the European Parliament on issues related to the Sri Lanka GSP Plus vote which is scheduled to be taken up for vote on Thursday.

De Silva added that he, together with Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the EU Rodney Perera, had met many members from the European Parliament to explain the good work the government had been doing to improve democracy, governance, rule of law, human rights and reconciliation.

"By and large they are satisfied with the progress albeit some areas have been slow," De Silva said. "I am confident we will make it through."

An EU fact-finding delegation had recently raised concerns over labor rights in Sri Lanka ahead of a decision being taken on Sri Lanka's application for GSP plus.

The Fact-Finding Mission, which included members of the European Parliament Anne-Marie Mineur and Lola Sánchez Caldentey, visited Sri Lanka last week to assess the country's progress on human and labor rights.

The European Union will decide next month if Sri Lanka is duly entitled, or not, to be granted GSP plus.
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Re: Sri Lanka confident of regaining key EU trade concessions GSP plus

Post by Backstage on Thu Apr 27, 2017 10:58 am


Possible GSP+ postponement averted

Pressure on the Sri Lankan Government to deliver on its promise of ensuring that GSP+ benefits, if approved, are passed down to workers, has averted a possible delay in the process.

While the European Union (EU) is set to decide next month on Sri Lanka’s request for a resumption of trade concessions under GSP +, there was concern that the EU May decision-making process would be postponed by several months if the government didn’t fulfil certain obligations including the right to organise in BOI factories and also workers being direct beneficiaries of the concessions.

Palitha Atukorale, Secretary of Industrial Sri Lanka Council, which is part of a global union, told the Business Times that a delegation including two EU parliamentarians that visited Sri Lanka last week on a fact-finding mission was considering seeking a postponement on Sri Lanka’s application.

“Until April 12th morning the delegation had stated that they will campaign for a postponement of Sri Lanka’s application to the next EU session for consideration, which we understand will be after several months as they felt that the situation was not good enough for consideration at this point,” he said.

However at a subsequent meeting and probably sensing the pulse (and concern) of the delegation, the Labour Minister John Seneviratne and Board of Investment Chairman Upul Jayasuriya had proposed that 50 per cent of the GSP+ benefits would be shared with the workers, and wanted the two EU parliamentarians to propose this to the EU, he said.

“The delegation was pleased with the proposal and the two parliamentarians said they will propose this as a condition if the EU is granting the facility and also they will press for the inclusion of this condition,” Mr. Athukorala said adding that the delegation – if convinced that the government proposal is sincere and would be implemented – may also convince the EU to not put too much pressure on other demands.

The delegation comprised parliamentarians Anne Marie Mineur (Netherlands) and Lola Sanchez (Spain), two representatives from Clean Clothes Campaign, one representative from the International Transport Workers Federation and two from the Danish Trade Union Federation. Sri Lanka lost the GSP+ eligibility in 2010. GSP+ will grant the full removal of tariffs on every product category covered by the general scheme.
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Re: Sri Lanka confident of regaining key EU trade concessions GSP plus

Post by Backstage on Thu Apr 27, 2017 1:28 pm

GSP+ only under strict condition: MEPs to Commissioner
2017-04-27

The two Members of the European Parliament (MEP) who visited Sri Lanka between April 10 and 12 to look into the possibility of Sri Lanka regaining GSP+, had recommended the European Commissioner on Trade Cecilia Malmström to grant the concession only under the strict condition of Sri Lanka implementing pledges made with regard to labour rights.

In a letter addressed to Ministers Kabir Hashim, John Seneviratne and Board of Investment (BOI) Chairman Upul Jayasuriya, the two members said they believe that serious reforms are urgently needed to improve labour rights.

The two MEPs; Anne-Marie Mineur and Lola Sanchez Caldentey, commended the government for ratifying all the UN, International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions on core human and labour rights.

However, they said they are worried about the enforcement of workers’ right to join or form a union of their choosing, the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike.

“Also the fact that labour inspectors and union leaders cannot visit all working sites, in particular the Free Trade Zones, without advance notification, undermines the essence of inspections. Unions cannot currently access the courts for complaints of unfair labour practices and/or anti-union discrimination,” the MEPs said in their letter.

They said their findings during the visit confirm reports by the UN Human Rights Commissioner as well as the ILO Committee of Experts.

“Both institutions have also reported shortcomings on the enforcement of labour rights issues as well as other human rights issues, in particular the use of torture, the rights of minorities and the rights of LGBTI people. While not all of these issues were the focus of our mission, we fully support their purport,” the MEPs said.

Because of these facts, the duo said they have tabled a resolution to the plenary assembly of the European Parliament to be voted on by April 27, in which they object to the renewed entry into force of the GSP+ system.

In response to their findings, the MEPs said they equally detected a cooperative attitude and a willingness to address these concerns from the Sri Lankan government.

“Minister Kabir Hashim agreed to include trade unions in the monitoring mechanism of the GSP+ in case it would be granted. Minister John Seneviratne stated that 50% of the benefits of the GSP+ system should be shared by the workers,” they said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Jayasuriya has agreed to allow labour inspectors and labour leaders to freely enter any work place under the purview of the BOI, including the FTZs

“We are impressed by the decisiveness and the sense of entrepreneurship that we have encountered both in the labour unions and in the government. However, we see too little guarantees to ensure the successful implementation reforms. Therefore, we recommend to Commissioner Cecilia Malmström that once these commitments have been implemented, and only under this strict condition, she does grant Sri Lanka GSP+,” the duo concluded in their letter.
- See more at: http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/GSP-only-under-strict-condition-MEPs-to-Commissioner--127902.html#sthash.rO1mShEE.dpuf
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Re: Sri Lanka confident of regaining key EU trade concessions GSP plus

Post by Ethical Trader on Thu Apr 27, 2017 2:02 pm

Thanks Back.
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