FESI stands by the EU’s decision to grant Sri Lanka enhanced market access 

Today, the European Union has effectively lifted a significant part of the remaining import duties on Sri Lankan products entering the EU in exchange for the country’s commitment to sustainable development, human rights and good governance.

FESI welcomes the EU’s vote of confidence on the Sri Lankan government, which has committed itself to ratify and effectively implement 27 international conventions on human rights, labour condition, protection of the environment and good governance. 

In exchange, Sri Lanka will benefit from a special arrangement within the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences, known as GSP+, designed to support developing countries in their economic growth through reduced import duties.  In Sri Lanka’s case these will cover 66% of tariff lines including a wide range of products such as textiles and footwear.

The EU is Sri Lanka’s largest export market, meaning that the GSP+ special arrangement will significantly contribute to the country’s economy while supporting a more sustainable development.

FESI Secretary General Alberto Bichi backs the EU’s move, adding that “Free trade and open markets provide the best conditions for sustainable economic growth and decreasing levels of poverty in developing countries. Development through trade should remain a cornerstone of the EU’s trade and development policy, while promoting good governance and sustainability.”

Although acknowledging that the human rights “situation is far from perfect” EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström  highlighted that the move “aims to provide the opportunity to develop further economically, including  creating more and better jobs for all Sri Lankans, on a sound foundation that advances human and labour rights, and in manner that is environmentally sustainable”.