Round of talks in Brussels as Govt. reaches final leg of process
Harsha confident task will be completed in next few weeks, progress on good governance noted at meeting
Lifting of import ban on fishing exports seen as positive, wants implementation of trade facilitation agreement
Sri Lanka took one step closer to regaining preferential trade assistance from the European Union following a final round of talks in Brussels on Wednesday ahead of the Government submitting a formal GSP+ application.
Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva said that Sri Lanka is now on the “final leg of the GSP+ application process.”
“It will be made in a matter of weeks as EU and Sri Lanka are now just about ready except for a few loose ends to be tied up,” he said on a tweet that was widely shared on social media.
The EU-Sri Lanka Working Group on Trade and Economic Cooperation met in Brussels on Wednesday. The meeting was co-chaired by Sri Lanka’s Director General of Commerce Sonali Wijeratne, and Peter Berz, Head of Unit, European Commission Directorate General for Trade, for the EU. The Working Group discussed issues related to bilateral trade and investment and possible means for their promotion in a mutual beneficial manner. In particular it discussed Sri Lanka’s intention in applying for GSP+ status under the European Union’s GSP regulation, the EU said in a statement.
It took positive note of the fact that Sri Lanka had made significant progress in addressing outstanding issues towards launching an application, especially relating to the rule of law, democracy, governance and the overall situation pertaining to human and labour rights and environmental protection.
They welcomed that as a result of Sri Lanka’s successful reform of its fisheries governance system, the Commission has proposed to Council on 21 April 2016 the lifting of the import ban related to illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
They also discussed bilateral matters and noted progress related to investment dialogue, customs valuation and exports of fruits and vegetables from Sri Lanka to the EU.
The EU and Sri Lanka also reviewed the results and work ahead after the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi and expressed their hope that the Trade Facilitation Agreement would enter into force as soon as possible, while noting action already taken by Sri Lanka to ratify the agreement.
Sri Lanka and EU noted the imminent launch of the trade related technical assistance projects to assist SMEs’ trade competitiveness in regional and EU markets under EU’s Regional Programming for Asia (Multiannual Indicative Programme 2014-2020)