The European Union Office in Sri Lanka has not received any representations from either the Sri Lankan Government or the private sector expressing concerns over the suspension of the GSP+ concessions in August, according to the EU Ambassador in Colombo Bernard Savage.
In an interview with the Business Times, he noted that government authorities and several private sector firms have made it public that the Sri Lankan exports to EU countries will not be affected by the removal of the GSP+ scheme. However, he added, the EU is always willing to discuss this matter with the Government whenever it feels it is appropriate.
The Ambassador reiterated that Sri Lanka was able to enjoy the GSP+ concessions since July 2005 enabling 7200 product lines to be exported to the EU duty free as long as the Rules of Origin criteria were met.
Replying to a question on the consequences of the EU’s decision on suspending GSP+, Mr. Savage said that the EU was unable to assess the impact at present in the absence of statistical evidence which will only be available after a period of time.
He went on to say that he did not have any official submissions confirming the closure of small and medium scale garment firms, job losses mainly among the rural poor, and a decline in global investor confidence as a direct result of the GSP+ suspension.
It appears that the Government and the Private sector had identified alternatives to tackle the situation, he said.
Sri Lankan authorities were of the view that exporters will still be competitive after the loss of the scheme due to depreciation of the currency against the euro and pound. But several apparel exporters told the Business times that their buyers have already moved away from them to firms in Bangladesh and Vietnam as they offer lower prices.
However Mr . Savage noted that Sri Lanka has reverted to the normal GSP scheme from August 15 which imposes a certain percentage of duty for most of the country’s major export products as against zero duty under GSP+. Sri Lanka should make use of the normal GSP scheme to increase exports to the EU market, he said.