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Policy measures if GSP+ is reversed: Cabraal

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ECONOMYNEXT – Any reversal of the USD 500 million European Union GSP+ trade concession for Sri Lanka could be met and handled through policy measures if such a contingency arises, Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal said .

Sri Lanka risks losing the EU’s Generalized Systems of Preference Plus (GSP+) trade concession from April next year if the government does not take strong measures to address human rights concerns as promised when the facility was restored in 2017.

GSP+ helped the garments industry here to earn over five billion US dollar export revenue.

“We believe that the impact of any reversal could be met with the policy measures that we would take in such an event,” Cabraal told a press briefing on October 14 when he was asked the size of the GSP+ trade concession.

“Therefore we have assured all the stakeholders that we would be able to deal with that situation in case there is any need to do so and we would not hesitate to do that.”

Sri Lanka has had problems with rule of law and freedoms of citizen with the deterioration of the independence of the public service and judiciary over several decades amid tinkering with the constitution in favour of the state and rulers, critics have said.

Sri Lanka is a European style nation-state with a legislating parliament, standing army and police but the institutions of liberty that should stand between the armed state and the people have weakened according to freedom advocates.

The European parliament adopted a resolution on June 10 calling for the repeal of Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and inviting the European Union (EU) Commission to consider temporarily withdrawing access to GSP+ if this is not done.

A five-member European Union (EU) delegation reviewed the country’s human rights situation while discussing with all the stakeholders of GSP+ benefits. But there have been renewed concerns about the country’s human rights record.

The EU is the second largest export destination for Sri Lankan products, and GSP+ has helped exporters to consolidate their position.

Sri Lanka lost the GSP+ in 2010 due to alleged human rights violations including war crimes in the final stage of the 26-year war that ended in 2009.

However, the commitment by the previous government to the international community to address human rights concerns in 2015 helped the country to regain the facility.

Small and medium sector garments and outsourced industries related to garment exporters faced closure after the GSP+ was withdrawn in 2010, but the industry rebounded later even without the trade concession.



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President orders probe into notification issued by Department of Immigration and Emigration

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It has been reported that President Wickremesinghe ordered an investigation into the notification issued by the Department of Immigration and Emigration requesting all  Russian and Ukrainian tourists to leave the country within 14 days.

According to the President’s Media Division (PMD), the relevant notification was issued without prior approval from the Cabinet of Ministers.

The decision had reportedly been taken as certain foreign tourists are running illegal businesses in the country.

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Contentious Chinese research vessel docks in Maldives

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Xiang Yang Hong 03 has previously visited Indian Ocean on several other occasions

A contentious Chinese research ship reached the Maldives on Thursday in the latest sign of the archipelago’s diplomatic reorientation towards Beijing and away from its traditional benefactor India.

Local residents said they had spotted China’s Xiang Yang Hong 3 at the Thilafushi industrial port near the capital Male.The 100-metre-long (328-foot) vessel was at an anchorage near Male on Thursday evening, according to the website Marinetraffic.

The Maldives’ pro-Beijing government said earlier the vessel was docking for a port call to rotate crew and take on supplies, on the condition that it would not conduct “research” while in its territorial waters.

Media reports in India had suggested that the vessel was conducting surveillance for Beijing.

India is suspicious of China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean and its influence in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, which are strategically placed halfway along key east-west international shipping routes.Relations between Male and New Delhi have chilled since pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu won elections last year.

Muizzu has asked India to withdraw 89 security personnel based in the Maldives to operate reconnaissance aircraft by March 15.But the president has also insisted he does not want to upend ties with New Delhi by replacing Indian troops with Chinese forces.

Sri Lanka refused entry to Xiang Yang Hong 3 after two other port calls from Chinese vessels since 2022 raised objections from India.That included the ship Yuan Wang 5, which specializes in spacecraft tracking and which New Delhi described as a spy ship. (AFP)

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MP Harsha in Australia as “Special visitor”

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Harsha de Silva

Opposition MP and Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance (COPF) Harsha de Silva is currently in Australia as a special visitor.

Taking to ‘X’, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP said he had embarked on a nine-day visit on an invitation extended by the Government of Australia.

“My engagements with policymakers, academics, scientists and investment managers began in Melbourne and will continue in Adelaide and then public officials and politicians in Canberra,” he added.

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