Centre for Policy Alternatives on 31 January, 2015

RE-QUALIFYING FOR THE EUROPEAN UNION’S ‘GSP PLUS’ TARIFF CONCESSION AND FULFILLING SRI LANKA’S OBLIGATIONS UNDER THE ICCPR

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The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) notes media reports to the effect that the new government of Sri Lanka is actively seeking re-entry to the European Union’s GSP Plus scheme, from which Sri Lanka was excluded in 2008 due to the confrontational approach adopted by the previous government.

The policy of the previous government was manifestly against the national interest, in not only depriving the apparel manufacturing sector of preferential access to the important European market, but also in rejecting the opportunity to vastly improve our constitutional and legal framework in respect of a range of labour and human rights, by giving meaningful domestic effect to our existing international treaty obligations.

In this context, we are pleased to republish a comprehensive paper by Rohan Edrisinha and Asanga Welikala, which sets out in detail the areas of the domestic constitutional and legal framework that fall short of the standards established by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and identifies the measures that might be taken to rectify these shortcomings. The paper was originally published in 2008, in the context of the process that eventually led to the loss of GSP Plus.

CPA has always argued, and continues to argue, that a ‘win-win’ solution was also always possible in this regard. Some of our previous interventions can be accessed here, here, and here. We also recall that CPA’s Executive Director received a death threat directly on account of our advocacy of reforms in relation to the retention of GSP Plus, in the political culture then prevailing in the country.

We maintain that the new government must undertake a series of necessary constitutional and statutory reforms in order to re-quality for the GSP Plus scheme, and we earnestly hope that Sri Lanka will be able to achieve both these aims in the near future.