The United States is expected to restore the suspended US GSP scheme, which has affected many countries including Sri Lanka, anytime between September and December this year, a visiting US trade official has said.
During meetings with local trade unions this week, Michael O. Donovan, International Economist of the Trade Policy and Negotiation Division of the US Trade Office, said the benefits, suspended in December 2010 due to technical reasons, would be restored with retrospective effect (from January 2011) with monies from additional taxes reimbursed to the importers, according to Palitha Athukorala, President of the Progress Union.
Mr. Athukorala said the visiting trade official also met labour authorities and employers during his four-day visit connected with issues relating to the US GSP and the trade union petition against the Sri Lankan Government on labour rights and freedom of association.
GSP benefits which Sri Lanka is entitled
to in many products excluding textiles and garments have been off the rack since December 2010 and the approval of the US Congress is needed to lift the suspension.
Local authorities have also been working with the ILO office in Colombo to improve relations between trade unions and employers, and several meetings and workshops have been held for this purpose.
Mr. Athukorala said Mr. Donovan also reviewed the recent establishment of a facilitation centre by the Board of Investment for workers to meet trade union officials. But one of the concerns here is that the centre has been set up outside the FTZ.
Sri Lanka is making efforts to improve labour rights in FTZs to avert any possible US sanctions after the probe on the petition, that labour rights are being flouted in the country.
Earlier in July ILO Director in Colombo Donglin Li made a public plea for US trade authorities to restore the suspended GSP trade benefits.