Showing posts with label GSP Plus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GSP Plus. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What play does Sri Lanka have in between Russia and Ukraine?

(June 29, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to leave for an official tour in Ukraine today. The official visit is scheduled from June 29 to July 2, 2010,

This is the first time a Sri Lankan President and a state head of the South Asian region pays an official visit to Ukraine, local media reported.

The Sri Lanka President is to hold bilateral talks with the Ukraine President, Prime Minister and senior state officials.

Director of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry's information policy department Oleh Voloshyn said to Ukraine's leading English-language newspaper Kyiv Post that it would help promote a bilateral political dialogue at the summit level, further developing cooperation between the two countries in the fuel and energy, military and technical, education, and culture and humanitarian spheres.

Voloshyn also added that the two countries expect to expand their international treaty framework and strengthen the two countries' cooperation via international organizations.

A range of bilateral agreements, in particular, on cooperation in the tourism and military and technical spheres, are to be signed during the visit, said Kyiv Post.

Ukraine assisted Sri Lanka immensely in the latter’s war against terrorism. However, Ukraine has disputes with Russia, another ally of Sri Lanka. Russia recently raised voice against the panel appointed by the UN General Secretary to advise him on human rights issues related to Sri Lanka.

Russia opposes Ukraine's move to join NATO. Sri Lanka is also in a tug-of-war with EU over the GSP Plus tariff concessions granted by the latter to poor countries. Sri Lanka is unwilling to bow to EU pressure on ratifying UN conventions regarding human rights.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

GSP Plus extension conditional, says EU; Sri Lanka to lose the free ride

(June 22, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolityPress Office of the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives issuing a press release said today that the reports on the GSP Plus concessions to Sri Lanka stating that the benefit would be offered to Sri Lanka unconditionally was not true.

The European Union says that the date of 15 August on which Sri Lanka would cease to benefit from GSP+ will not be extended unconditionally.

The European Union says that it has informed the Government of Sri Lanka of its readiness to propose to the Council of the European Union to maintain GSP plus preferences for Sri Lanka for a limited additional period, subject to a clear and written commitment by the Government of Sri Lanka to undertake a well defined number of human rights related actions, within a 6 months time frame beginning in July of this year, and to provide reassurances as to the sustainability of progress registered under the GSP plus dialogue.

The European Union says, “Only if a written commitment to this effect has been made by the Government of Sri Lanka, by 1 July 2010, would the European Commission put such a proposal to the Council of the European Union, without prejudice to the final decision.”

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sri Lanka pays for contempt of human rights alleging they are Western Christian concepts

(October 20, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Areas of concern identified by the EU's ‘Committee investigating the effective implementation of Human Rights in Sri Lanka’ are mainly related not to the government's 'war against terror' as said in most cases but to the overall human rights and democratic situation of the island. 
As reported by media EU sources had told the report showed evidence of police violence, torture and breach of labor laws, notably the use of underage children.
Police violence is wide spread in the country and in the most recent incident residents of a coastal village in the outskirts of Colombo city pelted stones at a police station since two village youths that were arrested for a minor incident were brutally killed and their bodies were dumped in the area. 
In another incident, the wife and son of a senior Deputy Inspector General were arrested for torturing an IT student in connection with a student clash in a campus where the police officers son studied. 
Both Tamil rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) and the pro-government paramilitary Tamil People's Liberation Tigers (TMVP) deployed child soldiers during the war time. Many of the LTTE child soldiers are now being rehabilitated. 
Sri Lanka Labor Department still publishes advertisements of the Wages Control Boards in which the wages for the underage are defined proving the child labor charges against Sri Lanka.
“Sixteen countries receive the GSP+ benefit and comply with the standards required of them. If it is found that certain countries, for instance Sri Lanka is not complying with these standards then it puts the entire instrument in jeopardy,” EU Ambassador Bernard Savage told Daily Mirror and pointed out the domino effect of compromising on this issue.  
“Many countries not receiving the benefit will begin to question the integrity of the agreement and then go to the WTO. This will jeopardize all 16 countries that are now receiving the benefit,” Mr. Savage said.   
The EU Generalized System of Preferences is the system of preferential trading arrangements through which the European Union extends preferential access to its markets to developing countries. 
Twenty seven international conventions were needed to be ratified by the beneficiary countries by 31 December 2008 and EU provided a grace period of one year for Sri Lanka that is to be ended by the end of this year. 

The investigation identifies significant shortcomings in respect of three UN human rights conventions – the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention against Torture (CAT) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) - such as to indicate that Sri Lanka at present is not effectively implementing them.  The investigation has relied heavily on reports and statements by UN Special Rapporteurs and Representatives, other UN bodies and reputable human rights NGOs. 

Sri Lankan ruling regime is observed guided by Sinhala chauvinist elements that propagate human rights are a Western Christian concepts that are needed to be replaced by Sinhala Buddhist principles. Sri Lankan rulers repeatedly mock the traditional Western allies and praise the new found friends like China, Iran and Libya. These countries buy lesser amounts of Sri Lanka's exports while exporting more to the island nation.   

Sri Lanka is a major beneficiary of the trading opportunities offered by GSP+.  In 2008, EU imports from Sri Lanka under GSP+ totalled EUR 1.24 billion.  The most important import products benefiting of these trade preferences were t-shirts and other clothing items, as well as fisheries products.  Any future temporary withdrawal of GSP+ treatment would mean that EU imports from Sri Lanka would instead be subject to standard GSP preferential treatment.  If the latter had been applied to actual import volumes in 2008, an additional EUR 78 million in import duties would have been collected.  It is not possible to forecast accurately the possible economic impact of reversion to standard GSP treatment in the EU market, since this will depend on several other factors as well as the import tariff level.

The EU accounts for 36% of Sri Lanka’s exports. Sri Lanka’s biggest foreign exchange generator garments fetched US $ 3.7 billion from EU markets and became the country’s top source of foreign exchange. Of the total exports of garments from Sri Lanka, 43% is bound EU nations and 24% is exported to US. (Remittances from expatriate Sri Lankans and tea exports brought in US $ 3 billion and US $ 1.2 billion respectively. 
EU and US are the major targets of hate campaigns of some of Sri Lanka's ruling party politicians.
Improving the country’s human rights record and strengthening the democratic institutes in Sri Lanka should be priority of any ruler and that should not depend on the bonuses of the other nations.
List of Conventions to qualify for ‘GSP Plus’ 
Core human and labour rights UN/ILO Conventions (all must be ratified and effectively implemented for GSP Plus to apply):
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights; International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; Convention on the Rights of the Child; Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; Minimum Age for Admission to Employment (N° 138); Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (N° 182); Abolition of Forced Labour Convention (N° 105); Forced Compulsory Labour Convention (N° 29); Equal Remuneration of Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value Convention (N° 100); Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation Convention (N° 111); Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention (N° 87); Application of the Principles of the Right to Organise and to Bargain Collectively Convention (N°98); International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.  
Conventions related to environment and governance principles (7 must be ratified and effectively implemented for GSP Plus to apply, all must be ratified and implemented by 2009:
Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer; Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal; Stockholm Convention on persistent Organic Pollutants; Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species; Convention on Biological Diversity; Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety; Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961); UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971); UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988); Mexico UN Convention Against Corruption.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sri Lanka President vows not to betray the people for US $ 150 million GSP Plus concession

(September 28, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse vowed not to betray the nation for US $ 150 million concession received through GSP Plus tariff relief scheme of the European Union. "I will earn that amount in another way and safeguard the industries," he said addressing lower rank government officers and village level elite of Southern Province at his ancestral home in Medamulana in Hambanthota district.

Rajapakse showed that he was clever to obtain the IMF stand-by arrangement that was also in balance one time. He boasted that as a man born in southern Sri Lanka, he was well versed in dealing such matters.

The President pointed out that one third of the land and two third of the sea given to Tamil rebels under agreements were united to the national economy.

Sri Lanka is about to lose the GSP Plus tariff concessions given to it by European Union to recover from the damages of 2004 Boxing Day tsunami due to criticism on its human rights conduct and the government's reluctance to investigate such issues.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sri Lanka garment workers are to be made guilty of the wrongs of the rulers

(September 17, 2009 - Lanka Polity) European Union is likely to discontinue the GSP Plus tariff concessions that had been granted to Sri Lanka to recover from the damage of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.
The trade sanctions, as some identify it despite it is retraction of preferences, is aimed at roping in a nation led by an arrogant regime that is rapidly drifting away from its traditional allies like Europe and US to the hands of the anti-Western block led by China.
The regime led by President Mahinda Rajapakse and his brothers has vowed to look into new markets in China and India etc. for Sri Lanka's garment exports. Sri Lanka produces good quality, cheap garment and 52% of them are exported to European Union countries. The withdrawal of tariff relief will increase the price of the garments by 10% and Sri Lanka is likely to lose the market for cheaper exports from countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam. 
Sri Lanka government has pledged to assist the garment industry to look into alternatives. However, industry experts say it is most unlikely to find new markets out of the traditional buyer zones. Around 250,000 workers, majority of them women that are one of the poorest sections of the society are employed in garment industry and around a million of the 20 million population of the island depend on garment industry. 
Sri Lanka that is already in a severe economic crisis will be definitely hit hard by the loss of GSP Plus. However, the rulers are supercilious to go ahead with its plans not to bow to the pressure from West and the UN to investigate the severe human rights violations in the recent past especially during the last phase of the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) that was fighting for a Tamil homeland in the north and east of the island.
Several months ago, Sri Lanka could defeat an attempt by West to move a probe on the human rights violations in the country at UN Human Rights Council with the support of the nations with similar records on human rights issues. The pro-government media and the ultra nationalist allies of the ruling coalition maintain a high level of ant-Western propaganda that is manipulated by the regime to muster support from the country's Sinhala majority. 
The government won a series of minor elections in recent past with a broad majority although the people are dissatisfied with the escalated prices of almost everything. Most of them people say that they are grateful to the President Mahinda Rajapakse for his service in wiping out terrorism. But they are unhappy about the seemless corruption in the system.

White handkerchief marks protest against forcible cremation by the government of Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan civil society is silently but strongly marking their protest against the government's inhuman  forcible  cremation of a 20-da...