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Saturday, 21 July 2018
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“GSP+ is not a mere mechanical process that can be done arbitrarily”-Ariyasinghe PDF Print E-mail
We reported yesterday that the European Union has decided to suspend the beneficial trade agreement, GSP+ due to the island’s human rights record and the lack of demonstration from Sri Lanka’s part to investigate solidly onto human rights charges and that a formal announcement was to be made later this month. In a statement released this evening Sri Lankan Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the EU states that the termination of trade concessions such as GSP+ is not a mere mechanical process that can be done arbitrarily, but one that  should be decided upon fully cognizant of its associated political and socio-economic ramifications at the time of doing it.

Sri Lankan envoy Ariyasinghe says that clearly many of the concerns that had given rise to the European Commission’s psychological impetus to review Sri Lanka’s suitability for the continuance of the GSP+, have already been addressed on the ground and in such context, any “temporary suspension” at this time would amount to, " having taken the temperature of a patient when he has a fever, then pronouncing him dead ten months later after he has recovered and is doing well."

Ariyasinghe notes at a time when the EU has shown considerable understanding and willingness to accommodate the practical difficulties faced by some current GSP+ recipient countries at variance from the norm with respect to the 27 UN conventions, Sri Lanka finds it is hard to understand why the same rubric is not being applied in the case of the island nation.

The envoy said in the statement that Sri Lanka values its long-standing relations with the EU, and has, and will continue to engage with the European institutions in order to address the remaining issues of concern, in a manner that does not compromise Sri Lanka’s national interest.

However, such engagement needs to be on terms respectful of one another and with sincerity and purposefulness by both parties. Sri Lanka expects the EU to do the same. There should be no setting of unattainable targets, no shifting of goal posts and no attempt to use Sri Lanka-EU relations to serve domestic political agendas.

Ambassador Ariyasinghe says Sri Lanka remains hopeful that better sense will prevail upon member countries of the EU, who themselves have faced  similar situations in their long history and are acutely conscious of the complexity of ‘democracies fighting terrorism’ – a phenomenon Sri Lanka, thankfully, has been able to overcome, the statement added.

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