The European Union (EU) will monitor the reports from the UNHRC in Colombo in view of the trade concessions granted to Sri Lanka under the GSP+ scheme following the passage of the human rights resolution against Sri Lanka in March in Geneva. In an emailed interview with the Business Times, the EU Delegation in Colombo [...]

Business Times

Sri Lanka comes under EU scanner for human rights

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The European Union (EU) will monitor the reports from the UNHRC in Colombo in view of the trade concessions granted to Sri Lanka under the GSP+ scheme following the passage of the human rights resolution against Sri Lanka in March in Geneva.

In an emailed interview with the Business Times, the EU Delegation in Colombo stated on Thursday, “While the UNHRC resolution 46/1 does not have an immediate and direct link with EU-Sri Lanka trade relations, the Office of the High Commissioner’s reports are an important element for GSP + monitoring.”

The EU pointed out that the UNHRC Resolution 46/1 “supported by the EU member states requests the Office of the High Commissioner to enhance its monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in Sri Lanka, including on progress in reconciliation and accountability.”

“The trade preferences that Sri Lanka currently enjoys under GSP+ are conditional to the implementation of 27 international conventions related to human and labour rights, as well as environment and good governance,” the EU stated.

The EU however, did not clearly state any possible decision to impose sanctions or travel bans stemming from the resolution. It however, noted that these decisions on “the adoption, renewal, or lifting of sanctions regimes are taken by the Council (Member States) of the European Union, on the basis of proposals from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy”. But it also noted that the EU applies sanctions in a bid to promote international peace and security, to prevent conflicts, to support democracy, the rule of law and human rights and to defend the principles of international law.

FTZ Manufacturers Association General Secretary Dhammika Fernando told the Business Times on Wednesday that as industries they believe the first impact could be from the EU states with a possibility of losing the GSP + concessions.

Moreover, he noted that following UK’s withdrawal from the EU, Sri Lanka does not have an agreement to replace the GSP + with the UK.

In this context and since the resolution was forwarded by the UK itself there are concerns on how it could impact Sri Lanka’s trade ties with its former colonials. Sri Lanka’s largest exports to the former EU that included the UK were largely to the UK itself.

EU warns of action at WTO??
Exporters are gravely concerned over the current crisis that Sri Lanka is heading towards as it continues to ban imports from a number of trading nations particularly in the European Union (EU) which has warned of possible “further action.”

The EU Delegation in Colombo stated in an emailed interview with the Business Times that they are raising the issue of Sri Lanka’s continued import restrictions since last year during the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Committee on Trade in Goods Council meetings that convened this week.

“The EU is raising this issue again at the WTO Committee on Trade in Goods convening. In the absence of an official notification or justification the EU will reserve its rights to take further action,” the EU said in response to the query on the impact of the continued import ban on goods by Sri Lanka from the EU.

In their response, they also noted, “The EU continues to be concerned by the import restriction measures applied by Sri Lanka.”

In fact the EU pointed out that they had “repeatedly” called upon the Sri Lankan authorities to uphold its WTO commitments, “starting by notifying the measures to the WTO.”

FTZ Manufacturers Association General Secretary Dhammika Fernando pointed out that as Sri Lanka imports heavily from the EU countries they would be pushed more and more towards China for supplies.

But the concern lies in the fact that China does not buy from Sri Lanka as much as the EU imports from Sri Lanka, he explained. (SD)

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