Sri Lanka will start enjoying the European Union import tariff GSP plus despite lack of progress in meeting criteria in some areas of focus, with effect from May 19, said EU Ambassador to Sri Lanka Tung-Lai Margue. The EU had denied the facility to Sri Lanka in 2010 due to the country’s failure to implement 27 international conventions on human rights, labour conditions, protection of environment and good governance.

Margue said that the removal of duties on Sri Lankan exports to the EU will come into force recently after publication in the EU’s official journal. This would mean full removal of duties on 66 per cent of tariff lines covering a range of products from textile to fisheries.

The GSP plus restoration will provide Sri Lanka with immediate benefits worth in excess of 300 mn euro annually. In 2016, Sri Lanka exported 2.6 bn euro worth of goods to EU countries. However, Sri Lanka still needed improvement in many areas of criteria and the EU will keep on monitoring the process for further improvement.

For example the EU awaits to see the final draft of Sri Lankas new Counter Terrorism Act which is to replace the existing Prevention of Terrorism Act. Granting of good governance (GSP+) facility does not mean that situation in Sri Lanka with regard to progress is fully satisfactory. International Human Rights groups have described PTA as draconian which allows indefinite detention of people. Margue said that torture and forced child marriages and labour rights violations are being still reported from Sri Lanka.