COLOMBO — When a special five-member European Union delegation arrives in Colombo on Monday, its review of a vital trade concession could lead to substantial export losses for Sri Lanka, which has already suffered a steep drop in foreign reserves, Nikkei Asia reported.
The European delegation will confer with stakeholders to learn more about something else many believe to again be in decline in the South Asian island nation: human rights.
“They will meet with all stakeholders to obtain information, and verify the commitment made by the government in relation to matters pertaining to human rights, international labor conventions and the environment,” Denis Chaibi, the EU ambassador to Sri Lanka, told Nikkei Asia.
The visit will last until Friday, and meetings with government officials, opposition parties, industrial players and trade unions are scheduled. The delegation will scrutinize Sri Lanka’s adherence to its commitments on human rights, labor laws and environmental protection, as well as enforcement of the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
The PTA legislation to counter terrorism and separatism was enacted in 1979, but remains in force and is regarded by many as a political weapon to stifle dissent and debate.
The investigation will determine whether the European trading bloc continues to provide a Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) concession on imports that has been highly favorable to Sri Lanka.
Times are already exceptionally hard in Sri Lanka. Apart from dwindling foreign exchange reserves, the vital tourism industry will not be bouncing back anytime soon.