ANI | October 17, 2009
Sri Lanka may lose clothes trade benefits for alleged human rights abuses
London, Oct 17 (ANI): The European Commission is all set to recommend withdrawal of trade benefits from Sri Lanka after allegations of large scale violation of human rights surfaced during the last stages of the civil war against the LTTE.
The commission will make the recommendation on Monday when it formally approves and publishes the results of an investigation. A decision will not be taken until the end of the year.
The Sri Lankan garment industry accounts for 10 per cent of GDP, employs about 250,000 people and recorded exports of 1.4 billion dollars to the EU last year.
The decision could affect British shops including Marks and Spencer, Tesco and Next, which have imported hundreds of millions of pounds worth of Lankan-made clothes since the benefits were granted after a tsunami in 2004. The scheme waives import taxes.
ithdrawing the benefits would add about 6 per cent to the cost of products, forcing many retailers to buy from cheaper producers such as China, India and Bangladesh, The Times reports.
It is the most drastic international response yet to the war – in which UN officials estimate that 20,000 civilians died – and to the subsequent detention of 300,000 Tamil civilians in internment camps.
EU officials said that they had no option because the scheme obliged Sri Lanka to abide by rights agreements and its Government had refused to co-operate, The Times reports.
The EU grants the Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GSP+), to help developing countries to boost their economies while improving human rights and labour standards.
Sri Lanka is the only country in Asia to benefit from GSP+, which obliges beneficiaries to adhere to 27 international rights agreements. (ANI)