The garment industry is in crisis as the consequences of losing the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Tariff Preferences Plus (GSP+) concessions are just being felt, The Colombo weekly reports. The European Union’s (EU) GSP+ scheme granted Sri Lanka duty-free access to EU markets, especially for the garment industry that makes up the bulk of the country’s exports to the EU. Sri Lanka lost GSP+ concessions in 2010, amidst political controversy. The full impact of losing the concessions are being felt now, as already some factories that cater to Europe are closing down operations in Sri Lanka and moving to other countries that have EU concessions, such as Bangladesh and Vietnam. About 1,100 workers at Crystal Sweaters and 600 workers at Firefox are now without jobs, B.I. Abdeen, organisation secretary of the Inter Company Employees Union, said. “Also, about 1,500 more workers lost jobs in Gampaha because of the GSP+ issue,” he said. “Thousands of workers have lost permanent jobs and hundreds of families have lost their only source of income. The government is responsible for this loss of livelihood.” The EU grants GSP+ status to developing, economically vulnerable countries that have “ratified and effectively implemented” 27 core international conventions on environment, good governance, and human and labour rights. Sri Lanka obtained GSP+ status in 2005, but subsequently became ineligible upon review in 2008, amidst allegations of war crimes.�]]>

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