US GSP to continue
The Sri Lankan government has taken significant steps to improve the
worker rights environment in the country, the United States said while
announcing that Sri Lanka will continue to enjoy the US Generalised
System of Preferences (GSP) concession.
Issuing a statement, the US embassy in Colombo said: “United States
trade representative Ron Kirk announced that USTR has closed the
Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) country practice review on
worker rights in Sri Lanka without any change to Sri Lanka’s GSP trade
The action follows an inter agency review of a petition filed by the
AFL-CIO in 2008 alleging shortcomings in Sri Lanka’s recognition or
Kirk said: “The closure of the GSP country practice review of Sri
Lanka was based on the Sri Lankan government’s noteworthy efforts to
address worker rights issues over the past few years. This welcome
outcome to the review demonstrates that GSP remains an effective tool
for engaging GSP beneficiary countries on worker rights.”
Over the course of the last few years, the Sri Lankan government has
taken significant steps to improve the worker rights environment in the
country. Among these steps are: progress in initiating, investigating
and resolving unfair labour practices cases; the establishment of trade
union facilitation centers in each of the three largest Economic
Processing Zones; improved procedures for conducting union
certifications; and enactment of legislation to increase the fines for
labour practices violations.
The governments of the United States and Sri Lanka will continue to
engage on worker rights issues in the newly established Labour Affairs
Committee of the United States - Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Council.
Under the GSP programme, up to 5,000 types of products from 128
beneficiary developing countries are eligible for duty-free importation
into the United States. In 2011, the total value of imports that entered
the United States duty-free under GSP was $18.5 billion.
US imports from Sri Lanka under GSP totaled $135 million in 2011 and
include tyres, activated carbon, rubber gloves, plastic products, and
As part of the annual GSP review, an interagency US government
committee led by USTR receives and considers petitions seeking to
withdraw or limit a country’s eligibility for GSP tariff benefits based
on that country’s compliance with statutory eligibility criteria.
One such criterion is whether a beneficiary country “has not taken or
is not taking steps to afford internationally recognised worker rights
to workers in the country.”