The 58 preconditions to obtain GSP+
Posted on January 16th, 2017

By C. A. Chandraprema Courtesy The Island


The government has been ecstatic at being granted GSP+ again by the European Commission. It hasn’t however revealed the conditions it has agreed to in order to get this trade concession. In this context, two documents are of interest to us. The first of these is the ‘Report on assessment of the application for GSP+ by Sri Lanka’ by the European Commission dated 11 January 2016 (Staff Working Document 474) which is available in the public domain and another document which was obviously a part of the application made by Sri Lanka to the European Commission to obtain GSP+, which is not available in the public domain. The two documents complement and authenticate one another.

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Everyone knows that GSP+ is conditional on ratifying and adhering to 27 international conventions and compliance is monitored by the European Commission. The 58 ‘conditions’ for granting GSP+ in the second document are obviously the result of the dialogue between the European Commission and the government of Sri Lanka to ascertain whether Sri Lanka is, in fact, adhering to, or in the process of implementing the international conventions it is supposed to implement to qualify for GSP+. The European Commission as the monitoring authority would naturally reduce things to certain specific questions or requirements and that is what these 58 conditions are all about. According to the confidential document mentioned above, the 58 preconditions are as follows:

1. Review or repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

2. Expeditious conclusion of cases of the remaining (LTTE) detainees.

3. Completion of rehabilitation of all ex-combatants.

4. Amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure Act to include rights of detainees.

5. Adoption of new regulations for public disorder management by the police.

6. Review of the Public Security Ordinance (PSO).

7. Expeditious processing of the remaining cases referred to by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

8. Establishment of an Office on Missing Persons.

9. Operationalisation of all provisions of the Protection of Victims of Crime and Witness Act, review of the Act and setting up of an independent witness protection authority.

10. Introduction of a new Human Rights Action Plan (2017-2021). 11.Ratification of the Convention on Disabilities and send to parliament the draft Disability Rights Bill.

12. Adoption of the new Prisons Administration Act and adopt strategy against prison overcrowding.

13. Expeditious conclusion of emblematic cases identified in the OISL/High Commissioner’s report. (This refers to the Ekneligoda and Lasantha Wickrematunga cases etc.)

14. Reforms to address delays in the administration of justice.

15. Reviewing of the status of the Tamil Diaspora organizations and individuals in the terrorist list.

16. Expeditious conclusion of pending cases of corruption before the FCID, AG’s Department and CIABOC.

17. Effective implementation of the CIABOC Action Plan against corruption.

18. Adoption of the National Action Plan for strengthening the Bribery and Corruption Commission.

19. Restructuring and enhancement of capacity of the anti-corruption bodies.

20. Devolution of power to the provinces to be addressed under the new Constitution.

21. Release all remaining lands to the rightful civilian owners.

22. Adoption of the National Policy on Reconciliation.

23. Adoption of the National Resettlement Policy.

24. Finalization of the resettlement of all internally displaced persons.

25. Ratification of the Convention on Enforced Disappearances with accompanying legislation. Issuance of certificates of absence.

26. Security Sector Reform/Peacekeeping operations.

27. Introduction of Electoral reforms under the new Constitution and consideration of the relevant EU EOM recommendations.

28. Submission of the Right to Information Bill to Parliament.

29. End all surveillance, harassment and reprisals against civil society, human rights defenders and journalists.

30. Propose to Parliament legislation allowing individuals to submit complaints to the UN Human Rights Committee under the First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR and to the UN Committee against Torture.

31. Reconsideration of the decision to establish the Press Council.

32. Legislative changes to ensure non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

33. Amendment to the Land Development Ordinance to provide equal land succession rights to men and women.

34. Issuance of clear, public and unequivocal instructions to all branches of the security forces that torture, rape and other human rights violations are prohibited and those responsible will be investigated and punished.

35. Adoption of the National Action Plan on Gender Based Violence.

36. Increase of Tamil speaking, especially female, police officers.

37. Reserve a minimum of 25% of representation in parliament for women.

38. Adoption of the National Action Plan on Female-Headed Households.

39. Address sexual harassment at the workplace including establishing and re-activating sexual harassment committees.

40. Strengthening of the Domestic Violence Act.

41. Amendment to the law to introduce a minimum age of marriage under Muslim law.

42. Amendment to the law to address marital rape and abortion.

43. Amendment to the law to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility.

44. Enactment of the Children (Judicial Protection) Act.

45. Strengthening of child protection through multiplying Child Protection Committees.

46. Re-issue circular to schools against use of corporal punishment.

47. Ratify the Optional Protocol to CAT.

48. Adopt Strategic Plan on Trafficking of Persons.

49. Expedite prosecution of reported cases of torture.

50. Continue supporting moratorium on death penalty.

51. Take effective measures on the worst forms of child labour (mainly hazardous work in manufacturing industries, services and agriculture) and child-sex tourism. 52. Protection of workers, freedom of association & collective bargaining in the Export Processing Zones (EPZ).

53. Fully operationalise the Readmission Case Management System.

54. Review position with regard to recommendations received during the 2nd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review. 55. Submit addendum to the 5th periodic report to the UN Human Rights Committee.

56. Submit addendum to the 5th and 6th periodic report under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

57. Launch wide public consultation and disseminate information during the various stages of setting up the transitional justice mechanisms.

58. Design a transitional justice architecture consistent with the HRC resolution and the results of the public consultation.

The Brussels Empire

Reading the above will help the Sri Lankan public realise why Britain voted to leave the EU. The European Commission, which is an unelected body, controls the EU and it is against that body that the British public revolted. The Brexit vote was an unprecedented electoral stampede which trampled all three established political parties in Britain – the Conservatives, Labour and the Social Democrats – so eager were the people of Britain to escape the clutches of Brussels. The European Commission is a body that turned even our erstwhile colonial master Britain into a virtual colony – they get your signature on a document and from that point onwards, you lose control over your own country and your destiny. Given the fact that the present government has virtually fallen over itself to sign up for GSP+ again the fly has willingly and enthusiastically entered the spider’s parlour!

Take some of these conditions. Item 30 on the above list, is to bring in legislation allowing individuals to submit complaints to the UN Human Rights Committee under the First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR. This is a case of effectively subordinating Sri Lanka’s supreme court to the Human Rights Committee in Geneva and ending the supremacy of the Supreme Court. One of the main reasons why Britain wanted to leave the EU was to stop being dictated to by the European Court of Human Rights. According to the European Commission’s conditions above, everything ranging from ‘public disorder management’ by the police in Sri Lanka, and cases pending before the FCID and Bribery Commission, the devolution of power to the provinces, electoral reform, the law of succession, the prevention of domestic violence, the minimum age of marriage for Muslim girls, will be under direct supervision from Brussels.

The last condition on the list is that Sri Lanka should set up a transitional justice mechanism in accordance with the Human Rights Council resolution. This means the setting of a war crimes tribunal with foreign judges, prosecutors and investigators, removing through administrative action the members of the armed forces suspected of having committed war crimes but against whom there is no evidence; and everything else the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government agreed to in the Obama administration sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka in September 2015. The European Commission’s supervision is so intrusive that it obviates the need for an elected government in Sri Lanka. Indeed, the European Commission has been set up in such a way that it can supervise the governments of the whole world if necessary. According to the British press, there are more than 10,000 European Commission officers getting a bigger salary than the British Prime Minister.

Nigel Farage the victor of Brexit, and Member of the European Parliament, puts that number at closer to 15,000. There are only 196 independent nations in the world so there are plenty of highly paid bureaucrats at the European Commission to go around. If our civil service was authorised to report directly to Brussels, Sri Lanka can be run as a colony once again with the EU Ambassador in Colombo functioning as the Governor. According to the above mentioned list of conditions, even the repeal or amendment of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the review of the Public Security Ordinance has been made mandatory if we are to obtain and retain GSP+. The Tamil diaspora organisations in the terrorist list will have to be delisted to the satisfaction of Brussels.

When the GSP+ programme started in 2005, it had 16 original members – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Georgia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Peru, Paraguay, Sri Lanka and Venezuela. Of these countries, only four – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Sri Lanka were genuine applicants while the other 12 nations had been absorbed into the GSP+ scheme after they were orphaned following the World Trade Organisation’s ruling against the EU’s special trade concession for drug producing countries which had been started to help those countries move away from drug production into conventional economic activities. Today, of the original four applicants who obtained GSP+ the same way Sri Lanka did, Azerbaijan and Georgia have left the programme.

Nations fleeing GSP+

Of the 12 narcotics producing countries in the programme, ten have dropped out and only Bolivia, and Paraguay remain. The drug producing countries have much less trouble with GSP+ than the others because the ‘drugs programme’ in which these countries were before they were put into GSP+ was given without any conditions. The only proper GSP+ beneficiary in the programme from the inception to date is Armenia – a tiny country much less than half of Sri Lanka in size with a population much smaller than that of the Western Province with exports of just 1.6 billion USD per year. The only significant Asian countries on the GSP+ programme are two relatively new entrants––Pakistan and the Philippines. Pakistan was one of the original beneficiaries under the ‘drugs programme’ of the EU and it was due to the inclusion of Pakistan that India went to the WTO and got the entire EU ‘drugs programme’ shot down.

As a country on the former drugs programme, Pakistan need not fear the kind of scrutiny that Sri Lanka would come under. The Philippines has joined the programme obviously due to the political fellow feeling that would have existed between the EU and that country during the presidency of Benigno Aquino III. But, if the EU tries to exert pressure on the Philippines now under a very different character Rodrigo Duterte, it is only a matter of time until Duterte tells the EU where to get off the way he so colourfully told both Barak Obama and the UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Al Hussein. GSP+ is the most unsuccessful trade concession scheme ever launched by the EU.

Very few nations on earth are willing to trade in their sovereignty for a duty concession. The Prime Minister has been touting GSP+ as the trade concession that will change Sri Lanka’s destiny. The Sri Lankan apparel industry was doing quite well before the country received GSP+ in 2005 and even after GSP+ was withdrawn in 2010, apparel exports to the EU continued to grow at the rate of six to seven percent a year. GSP+ gives the European importers an incentive to import from Sri Lanka by removing the applicable tariff. This may increase the orders that our garment factories get – but at what cost? Even at present, the biggest problem facing our garment factories is labour with the FTZ trade unions estimating the labour shortage to be more than 30,000 in the apparel sector alone. If there is increased demand from Europe following the reintroduction of GSP+, how is the increased demand going to be met without more labour?

This is not a government that is good at negotiation or even weighing the costs against the benefits of a certain course of action. Ultimately by getting GSP+ back the actual economic benefit to the country may not be proportionate to the political cost not just to the country but also the very government that negotiated the reintroduction of GSP+. There is certainly going to be a major political fallout if some of the 58 preconditions set out by the European Commission are actually implemented. There is however the chance that since this government is a fellow traveller of the liberal establishment which still controls most of Europe, they will soft pedal the conditions imposed and only make noises without taking any action in order to help their struggling acolytes in Sri Lanka. The GSP+ concession is not given for all perpetuity. At the moment we know that it will last till 2023. What will happen after that is open to question.

11 Responses to “The 58 preconditions to obtain GSP+”

  1. S.Gonsal Says:

    No.1 is good, because they are keeping good people in remand using this act. Actually most of others are also OK.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    Gonsal,

    “No.1 is good, because they are keeping good people in remand using this act.”

    Have you lost your mind, Gonsal?

    NO GOOD person is kept in remand using PTA.

    PTA must stay.

    I AGREE some are good. We should do the good ones.

  3. Kumari Says:

    These conditions have nothing to do with trade. Therefore, Sri Lanka should no agree to any and adjust her economic factors to live without GSP +. Under Yahapalanaya vert soon we may not have anything to export too but the conditions agreed will get implemented never the less.

  4. Ananda-USA Says:

    Donald Trump said yesterday that the USA would not support either the EU or the NATO and that these are obsolete structures not consistent with the needs of current world. He said, that the EU is largely serving Germany’s interests.

    He said that the EU is on the verge of breaking up, and that NATO is a barrier to peace in Europe.

    This has sent a shiver down the spines of Europeans accustomed to the United States bearing their burdens and guaranteeing their security.

    Those Eastern European nations of the Warsaw Pact to join the EU and NATO must be kicking themselves for jumping into a sinking shop!

    So, the TREACHEROUS pea-braine leaders of the Yamapalanaya should ask themselves, in the light of these developments, WHY SHOULD Sri Lanka JUMP ONTO THIS SINKING SHIP, accepting the 58 DICTATS of EU’s GSP+??

    Hellooooo …. calling AvaMangala Samaraweera ….. our pea-brained PARAGATHI Foreign Minister!

    Best laid plans of mice and men going astray??

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    EU will be NO MORE a COLONIAL RULED area soon. ARABS will call the shots in the EU soon. SL should hang on until then.

    Even BABA VANGA predicted Europe will be a BARREN LAND due to a major war SOON. It’s GAME OVER for the EU.

  6. S.Gonsal Says:

    I thought they are arresting our soldiers under PTA.

  7. Fran Diaz Says:

    First, Lanka was crushed through the INDIA imposed ILLEGAL 13-A IN 1987. This divisive piece of legislation is still in place. Together with the yet unrevoked Vadukoddai Resolution (1976) – Eelam through Violence – is it correct to call Lanka a Democracy …. ?

    Now, thanks to RW’s economic games, Lanka may get crushed again through a Colonial type 58 Preconditions to obtain a now not so important GSP+.

  8. Ananda-USA Says:

    Nationalism is rising like a phoenix from the ashes in OPPOSITION and REACTION to the dictates of unelected holier-than-thou globalists using human rights and democrazy to hide their pursuit of a hegemonic NeoColonialist agenda.

    Yesterday Brexit, today US EXIT under Trump, tomorrow in 2017 France, Poland, Netherlands, Spain etc tin opposition to unelected bureaucrats of the EU!

    Here is my own prediction: previously popular German Chancellor Angela Merkel who allowed millions of Muslim refugees into Germany will be defeated at the polls, and Germany that hoped to use the EU to Germanium Europe will be OUSTED, heralding the beginning of the end for the EU!

    This should serve as a warning to the PARAGATHI Yamapalanaya pundits who are caving into the EU’s draconian 27 conditions for acquiring GSP+ status!

    If EU disintegrates, Sri Lanka can renegotiate GSP+ in the form of BILATERAL AGREEMENTS with individual countries, without the DRACONIAN INTERFERENCE in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka.

    The BEST LAID PLANS of the Tamil Diaspora will suffer the same fate as the PLOT of the EELAMIST Tamils-for-Clinton!

    POOF ! and millions of Dollars in BRIBES and election campaign conyrobitions gone down the tubes! OUCH!

    Do you hear the wail? Thalaivaaaaaar, Jayalalithaaaa, Hillaaaaaaaary …. where have you gone just when we need you!

    DUST TO DUST, ASHES TO ASHES! That is where they have gone!

  9. Ananda-USA Says:

    Oops! I meant to say “to Germanize Europe by stealth”!

  10. S.Gonsal Says:

    Agree with Ananda but LTTE will find a way to approach trump, if not by bribing, by opening few factories while we Sinhalese are fighting with each other on who is the Hora question.

  11. Lorenzo Says:

    NO.

    LTTE knows Trump is a ONE TIME president. They can WAIT for 4 years.

    Believe it or not LTTE is trying very hard to WIN China!! And use China against ENDIA to get Endia to support TE or else they will go with China and DISRUPT Endia.

    CHINA RADIO INTERNATIONAL is relaying in Tamil and it is getting VERY popular. There is even an attempt to LINK Chinese new year with Thaipongal!!!

    http://tamil.cri.cn/

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