A five-member delegation from the European Union (EU) from Brussels will arrive in Colombo on 5 September to start a process to formally monitor the implementation of a set of conventions Sri Lanka agreed to prior to receiving the GSP Plus trade concession.
Head of the Political, Trade and Communications section of the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and Maldives Paul Godfrey said the EU has initiated a formal monitoring process and a team from Brussels will be visiting Sri Lanka from 5-13 September to begin the process of monitoring the implementation of the 27 international conventions set prior to approving the GSP Plus trade concessions for the country.
In terms of the application for GSP Plus, there were specific undertakings on the implementation of the 27 international conventions to which Sri Lanka has signed up, the EU official said.
The new GSP regulation provides for continuous monitoring of the GSP+ beneficiaries’ obligations. Once a country is granted GSP+, the EU must therefore monitor that it abides by its commitments, namely to maintain ratification of the international conventions covered by GSP+; ensure their effective implementation; comply with reporting requirements; accept regular monitoring in accordance with the conventions; and cooperate with the EU and provide all necessary information.
On 19 May the EU formally restored the GSP+ facility to Sri Lanka after withdrawing it in 2010 due to the poor human rights record of the country. The move was an acknowledgement that the country had committed to ratifying and implementing 27 international conventions covering issues such as human rights, labour conditions, environmental protection and good governance.
The envoy noted that Sri Lanka will receive a significant benefit from the GSP+ as the EU is offering tariff concessions worth 2.6 billion euros on exports from Sri Lanka each year.
Benefitting from GSP+ requires the Sri Lankan Government to undertake to make further progress in implementing 27 conventions and to cooperate with the EU to monitor implementation and address shortcomings.
Godfrey said the EU’s assessment would be made purely in terms of the implementation of those 27 conventions.
“If there are any shortcomings in the assessment, the monitoring team would initiate a dialogue with the Government (which we would do in any case) that there are some areas where no progress is seen and that we would like to see changes. If it’s serious, it would be addressed through one of the European Commissioners to Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister highlighting the areas of concern, and the particular steps Sri Lanka has to take in order to obtain the GSP Plus,” the EU envoy said.