JAAF upbeat on GSP+ extension

The Joint Apparel Association of Sri Lanka, (JAAF) is optimistic the EU Commission will extend the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) plus trade arrangement to Sri Lanka for the next coming years, with the dawn of the peace and normalcy in the country.



The EU Commission evaluates every single country that enjoys the GSP trade arrangement through a panel of judges every three years on four main areas such as good governance, environment protection, labour and human rights issues before the extension of this trade arrangement, JAAF Secretary General Rohan Masakorala said.


”More than 150 reports have been submitted for and against Sri Lanka from different parties to the EU Commission from last October to February 18 this year to investigate on the performance on four main areas and the Government and JAAF are optimistic on the extension of this trade arrangement,” he said.


”However, stakeholders in the Sri Lankan apparel sector under the patronage of JAAF had submitted 15 strong and comprehensive reports to counter attack any negative reports against Sri Lanka to the EU Commission during the period,” Masakorala said.


He said they are awaiting till the extension of the GSP plus trade arrangement to Sri Lanka because more than 280,000 directly and one million indirectly are employed in the apparel sector and most of them are from rural areas.


Acting Director General, the Commerce Department P.D. Fernando said they are optimistic and positive that the EU Commission will extend the trade arrangement before the end of this year.


Apparel industry sources said certain pro LTTE elements are trying to scuttle giving GSP plus to Sri Lanka and the Government of Sri Lanka, JAAF and other stakeholders in the industry took a proactive role to counter all negative publicity given by various elements. However, Sri Lanka could enjoy the GSP plus trade arrangement till this year and the EU Commission will pronounce to the Government on their decision following the completion of their technical evaluations and investigations.


Ending of the war against the LTTE and the dropping of Swiss-EU draft resolution calling for an investigation into possible war crimes in Sri Lanka by United Nations Human Rights Commission was a plus point to Sri Lanka to retain the GSP plus trade arrangement, industry sources said.


The GSP trade arrangement existed since 1967. The country enjoyed a 20 percent duty free for EU exports from Sri Lanka. In 2004 the EU Commission awarded another 20 percent duty free concession for Sri Lanka looking at the labour standards in the country. In 2005 GSP was advanced to GSP plus status after the tsunami in 2004, which gave 100 percent duty free concessions to export Sri Lanka products to EU States/countries.


Sri Lanka is among the few countries enjoying the GSP plus status and we could export more than 15,000 items under this trade arrangement.