[QODLink]
Central & South Asia
EU issues Sri Lanka trade warning
Block threatens to withdraw preferential trade benefit over human rights issues.
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2010 09:19 GMT
Minority Tamils have often accused Colombo
of ill-treating and harassing them [EPA]

 

European Union nations have decided to withdraw preferential trade benefits from Sri Lanka due to "significant shortcomings" on human rights issues, the EU Commission has announced.

The decision came after an "exhaustive investigation ... identified significant shortcomings in respect of Sri Lanka's implementation of three UN human rights conventions," the Commission said in a statement on Monday.

The suspension of the "Generalised System of Preferences Plus" (GSP+) benefits will not take effect for six months "giving Sri Lanka extra time to address the problems identified," the EU executive added.

Karel De Gucht, the EU trade commissioner, said: "I would like to emphasise that I hope Sri Lanka will sit with us over the next six months in order to agree upon a set of measures that will result in rapid, demonstrable and sustainable progress in relation to the human rights shortcomings we have identified."

Rights violations

The European Union's GSP+ scheme gives 16 poor nations preferential access to the trading bloc in return for following strict commitments on a wide variety of social and rights issues.

Sri Lanka's government has faced almost constant criticism over the past several years because of the way it has conducted a war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) separatists.

Government forces have been accused of a host of rights violations including the indiscriminate killing of thousands of Tamil civilians, the murder of aid workers and the execution of surrendering Tamil Tigers during the final days of the war last year when the rebels were defeated.

Sri Lanka gains about $150m annually due to preferential tariffs, according to trade estimates.

The island's clothing industry is the main beneficiary, using the tax breaks to sell to high street retailers in Europe.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.