Govt pushing for GSP+, TPP membership - Dr. Harsha | Daily News

Govt pushing for GSP+, TPP membership - Dr. Harsha

On the 11th and 12th the government will have a very serious meeting with the European Union on regaining GSP+ and hopefully by mid next year get it back, said Dr. Harsha De Silva, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The way Sri Lanka is perceived by the rest of the world has changed, he said addressing the Sundown Meeting organized by Sri Lanka Apparel Sourcing Association on Thursday in Colombo.

Here Dr. De Silva delivered a speech on ‘New Economy Trends in Apparel Sector and the Government Plans to Boost Economic Diplomacy and GSP+ and updates on Free Trade Agreements.’

“On the US side we are pushing for greater, stronger agreements with both the US and hopefully in the next round of The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to get into it. On the European side we will hopefully get GSP+ back and in the region, we will try to get the best deal out, which all means good news for the apparel industry,” he said.

The Deputy Minister said in his recent visit to the USA, he had the opportunity to have discussions with the second in command of The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) which was very useful.

Dr. De Silva said in 1990 Vietnam’s total exports were 2.1 billion and Sri Lanka exports stood as 1.9 billion. Today Vietnam’s exports stand as 120 billion, grown 60 times and Sri Lanka’s exports stand at only 11 billion.

He said Vietnam is already in TPP, whereas we have not even started talking about it. What the Prime Minister articulated in his 5 year plan is reforms that will have to be done to take the country forward.

For so long people have been distributed deeds but they actually did not have the title or right to that property. So what the Prime Minister’s thinking is that the government is going to develop this country based on market principals.

“The first thing is right to property. What we are going to do is to create a land market and that is why three million people in this country will begin to get title to their lands. The government is going to build this nation on the fundamental thinking of markets and economic freedom,” he said.

The government also wants to create the most competitive economy in this part of the world by undertaking the kind of reforms needed to be undertaken so that this country can plug itself to the global value chains, grow and create wealth.

He said the EPF has been misused, abused and used for the purposes of governments. There has been a conflict of interest and that has been there for the last 50 years.

Dr. De Silva added that the EPF was not the money of the government but of the workers and it must be invested in such a way that every year one must get a 2.5 percent return on that investment. 

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