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EU pledges impartial GSP+ review

Lanka reaffirms commitment to 27 Int'l Conventions:

COLOMBO: The European Union yesterday stressed that no pre-decision has been taken on Lanka's GSP Plus status and the assessment process will be fair and impartial.

Joao Aguiar Machado, Deputy Director General for External Relations of the European Commission told a news briefing in Colombo that they encouraged Sri Lanka to take all the necessary steps to ensure its compliance so GSP+ can continue to bring benefits to the country.

"We encouraged the Government to submit its outstanding reports to the relevant monitoring bodies as soon as possible," he said.

He said the Government updated the EU delegation on progress in preparing its application for GSP+. "We explained the criteria that need to be fulfilled to be eligible to the GSP+ regime, namely the ratification and effective implementation of the 27 international conventions."

The Commission is working out the eligibility criteria and requirements for countries to apply for the GSP+ scheme and the relevant regulations are expected to be issued shortly. Once the regulation is issued, interested countries may submit their applications to the Commission before the deadline of October 31, 2008.

At the 17th session of the Sri Lanka - EC Joint Commission which concluded in Colombo, Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona stated that Sri Lanka has fully complied with all 27 conventions on human rights, labour, governance and the environment, which are required to qualify for the GSP+ facility.

Kohona also thanked the EU for granting this preferential tariff facility, which has also contributed to the diversification of Sri Lanka's export production base, particularly in expanding exports of bicycles, rubber products, fruits and vegetables, foliage plants and seafood to the vast EU market.

Machado noted advances made since the visit of the EU Troika in March 2008, such as beginnings of the democratic process in the East.

"We expressed our hope that the situation in the East can be further stabilised." "Our development and humanitarian aid was discussed.

The Government welcomed our past aid and our continued support as one of Sri Lanka's most constant and supportive donors.

We reviewed progress on implementing our 148 million Euro of tsunami assistance, including the reconstruction of 160 kilometres of the road from Matara to Batticaloa with our partners the Roads Development Authority and ADB, our building 400 kilometres of road within Ampara, of building 3,000 houses and so forth.

We discussed the continued substantial support that we are providing to Sri Lanka, including the further 70 million Euro this year," he told the news briefing.

The European Commission (EC) has also reiterated its unconditional support for Sri Lanka's sovereignty and its firm opposition to secession.

It has also strongly condemned LTTE terrorism in the island.

 

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