Sri Lanka regains GSP+ status from European Union

Published on
May 17, 2017

The European Union has granted of Generalized System of Preferences (GSP+) status to Sri Lanka by the end of May, eliminating tariffs of Sri Lankan goods entering the European market and providing a boost to the island nation’s seafood exports.

Sri Lanka lost GSP+ status in 2015 when it received a red card from the E.U. for its failure to address issues surrounding illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The red card also prohibited Sri Lanka from exporting its seafood to the European Union. In April 2016, Sri Lanka had its red card removed by the E.U. following a broad reform of its fisheries governance system, but Sri Lanka had to reapply for GSP+ status – a process that took just over a year.

“Sri Lanka faced a major setback in fish exports due to the EU ban and the removal of GSP+. The fish exports from Sri Lanka went down drastically and we lost our market share to our competitors in Maldives, Vietnam and Indonesia. It was not only the seafood exporters that were affected due to this E.U. ban and removal of GSP+, it did also effect the chain of people that were involved down the line from the fishermen and their families, the boat owners that was a link to the fishery exports,” The Seafood Exporters Association of Sri Lanka said in a press release. “The GSP+ will help us to increase the export volumes, bring in additional revenue to the country and once again we will be placed in the threshold of being the number-one tuna exporter from Asia to the E.U.”

Senior Sri Lankan officials, including  Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, were personally involved in the effort to regain GSP+ status, the exporters association said.

“The team that worked hard to lift the E.U. ban continued with the same spirit to bring about a truly international seafood export industry in Sri Lanka,” it said. “This is going to be a complete game changer in the region. “

The association said the zero-duty access to the European Union will help Sri Lankan government in its goal of achieving USD 1.5 billion (EUR 1.35 billion) in seafood exports within the next four years. 

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