Head of the European Union delegation to Sri Lanka, Bernard Savage, says political differences do not affect bilateral trade, although the withdrawal of the GSP + is a specific case. “There are no specific irritants (at the moment) and I would like to stress that in the normal run of affairs political differences do not affect trade,” he has told IPS in an interview. The issue of withdrawal of EU trade concessions was a specific case, Mr. Savage has said, adding, “But, if you look at the broad spectrum of trade relations … that was not affected by short-term considerations.” The EU is among Sri Lanka’s largest providers of development assistance and has allocated an overall sum exceeding Sri Lankan rupees 478 million dollars for the 2007-2013 period for projects dealing with water and sanitation, housing, income generation, infrastructure, schools, health facilities, food security and others. “The level of assistance for the next programme – 2013 to 2020 – will be more or less the same. It won’t decrease,” Mr. Savage has said. Sri Lanka had won generous tax concessions under the Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) for the July 2005 – August 2010, but this facility was withdrawn over unaddressed human rights concerns. “With regard to GSP + we have had no request from the government for a new facility,” Mr. Savage has confirmed.]]>

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