EU hints at possible changes to GSP +
- New labor rights, human rights, Paris convention to be included
- Plans to introduce mandatory due diligence to control supply chains entering the EU market
- Addition of conventions on the rights of persons with disabilities and children in armed conflict
- The eligibility conditions for LDCs to apply for GSP + will be changed
- Offers to shorten the process of opting out of preferences
- Unimaginable says about future trade policies without reference to basic principles of sustainable development
- Expresses concern that SL is only operating 60% of the program
- The legal stability and long-term approach of the program will allow the full potential of the GSP + to be exploited
- Calls to diversify products and industrialize
- Stresses the importance of making SMEs aware of SPG +
By Charumini de Silva
Yesterday, a senior European Commission official highlighted areas of possible changes underway in generating the European Union (EU) GSP + preference by introducing more control over supply chains and sustainability .
principles of development, while emphasizing the benefits and optimal use for economic growth.
“The GSP + is an incentive, it is not a reward. We assess countries that are making enormous efforts to meet these obligations. There will be changes to the proposal. There will be additions and deletions.
The trajectory of the beneficiary states will be assessed and a decision will be taken, ”said Nikoloas Zaimis, senior advisor for sustainable development at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade yesterday.
He made the remarks during a webinar titled “The Future of the GSP + EU and Its Benefits” hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka (ECCSL) and the European Union (EU).
“We want traders to have time to adapt to any changes we might make to the program. We will expand the list of conventions, which will also include some other conventions on human rights, labor rights and the Paris Convention, ”he said.
“The Paris Convention and the labor conventions on inspections and on tripartite consultations will be added to the list,” he said, adding that these new conventions will also introduce the necessary tools to establish in beneficiary countries the ability to adhere to fundamental principles.
“In terms of labor rights, the inspection system and tripartite consultations are very important. If the government does not talk to employees and unions, then there can be no social peace, and if there is no social peace, there is no economic growth, ”he said. he explains.
In addition, compulsory due diligence for companies or for any economic operator wishing to be active in the European market will be introduced towards the end of this year or the beginning of next year.
“This will ensure that there is no risk of violation of human rights, labor rights, damage to the environment, at all levels of the supply chain. It will be an obligation of the European buyer. Companies that cannot do this due diligence or choose to ignore their products will be stranded at the EU border, ”he said.
Zaimis also said that the eligibility conditions will be adjusted for least developed countries (LDCs) wishing to apply for GSP + status.
Changes will also be made to shorten the process of withdrawing preferences from the current lengthy procedure, especially in cases of serious systemic human and labor rights violations.
The EU is also planning to introduce a number of new conventions on the rights of people with disabilities and children in armed conflict.
“We cannot imagine the future trade policy without reference to these principles of sustainable development,” he said.
Noting that the proposal was presented two weeks ago to renew the program for another 10 years, from 2024 to 2034, he said the proposal will be discussed with the political institutions responsible for legislating in the EU.
“Next year there will be discussions on the program and hopefully by the end of next year we will see the new program in a legislative publication,” he said.
Describing the GSP + as the flagship instrument for unilateral preferences, he said the program is seen as a success with the responses and growth they have seen in recipient economies over the years.
Although Sri Lanka has seen significant growth in its exports to the EU with more than € 2.3 billion, Zaimis said the program’s full potential has not been tapped.
“The competitive advantage offered by the GSP + to access the EU market is remarkable. But we notice that Sri Lanka uses only 60%. It is a shame because other beneficiaries have fully exploited the program to more than 90% of potential and eligible exports, ”he said.
He said they were looking for reasons to see if this is due to rules of origin, technical standards or lack of production capacity.
Zaimis said the legal stability and long-term approach of the program will help Sri Lanka to fully exploit the full potential of the program, while diversifying and advancing industrialization.
“We don’t want the beneficiaries to be stranded as exporters of raw materials. Due diligence of companies throughout their supply chain and production facilities is very important. Industrialize and establish itself in new areas, while making a long-term commitment to respect international conventions, ”he declared.
He also pointed out that being eligible for the EU’s GSP + gives a direct impression to potential investors interested in investment opportunities in Sri Lanka.
“The GSP + has really established a relationship of trust. The beneficiary countries undertake to respect certain basic standards in terms of the protection of labor, human and environmental rights. By investing in a country that has access to the EU market, they too get a competitive advantage over a long period of 10 years ”, he added,
Zaimis also underlined the importance of publicizing the SPG + program locally, in particular among SMEs.