Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has assured the European Union (EU) that a future Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP)-led government will look to continue with the EU GSP+ trade concession, EU sources told The Sunday Morning.
Sri Lanka lost the trade concession in 2010 when Rajapaksa was President after the then Government failed to comply with the 27 conventions linked to GSP+, which included human rights.
The then Government remained undeterred following the withdrawal of GSP+ and some small companies exporting textiles to the EU under the scheme were forced to close.
Sri Lanka regained the GSP+ concession from May 2017 after the UNP-led Government agreed to comply with the 27 conventions.
There have been fears that if an SLPP Government takes office after the next election, the conventions may not be followed resulting in Sri Lanka losing GSP+ again.
However, during talks with a visiting EU delegation, Rajapaksa had assured that an SLPP-led Government would look to continue with GSP+, EU sources said.
EU sources added that Rajapaksa had assured that human rights and labour rights as well as other key areas covered in the 27 conventions linked to GSP+ would be respected under an SLPP Government.
An EU GSP+ Monitoring Mission was in Sri Lanka recently to assess Sri Lanka’s compliance to the conventions.
It was found that Sri Lanka had made progress in several areas although there were still some issues which need to be addressed.