Sri Lanka on Monday night said it would ‘closely study’ the European Commission (EC) report on a proposal for temporary withdrawal of an estimated $100-million concession on exports from garment and apparel industry of the island nation on the ground that Colombo had breached human rights laws.
Leader of the Opposition and United National Party chief Ranil Wickremesinghe was quoted as saying at a public function here that if the EU concessions were lost, 1,00,000 families would be without a means of income.
The EU on Monday published the findings of the investigation it began in 2008 into charges of human rights violations and torture in the run up to Eelam War IV (August 2006-May 2009).
In 2008, the EU was Sri Lanka’s largest export market, accounting for 36 per cent of all exports. Garments accounting for $ 3.47 billion from EU markets were the top foreign exchange earner followed by remittances of $ 3 billion and tea at $1.2 billion.
Sri Lanka has been given time till November 6 to submit its response to the EC report. By November end, the Commission will discuss the response and whether to propose to member-states that they temporarily suspend Sri Lanka’s Generalised System of Preference Plus (GSP +) trade scheme.
A statement by the Sri Lanka Foreign Office said the EC on Monday handed over to the government its report on Sri Lanka’s implementation of 3 of the 27 U.N. Conventions relevant to its GSP+ benefits that were of concern to the EC.
The Note from the Directorate-General for Trade of the European Commission, forwarding the EC report to the Mission of Sri Lanka in Brussels, stated: “The Commission will now decide whether to propose a temporary withdrawal of the special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance provided for under Council Regulation (EC) No. 732/2008.”