US to also review GSP for Lanka

US to also review GSP for Lanka

July 1, 2010   09:59 am

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The U.S. Government announced that it has accepted a petition to review the GSP status given to Sri Lanka. In 2008, as part of the annual review process, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), an American trade union, filed a petition with the US Government requesting a review of worker rights in Sri Lanka.

 

 

The U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), a program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world, provides preferential duty-free treatment for over 3,400 products from 131 designated beneficiary countries and territories, including Sri LankaSri Lankabenefited from GSP treatment on approximately $116 million of goods in 2009.  Products covered under the GSP program include: machinery, electrical goods, chemical products, agricultural products, jewelry and much more.  Most textiles and apparel are not eligible for preferential benefits under the program.

 

Countries eligible for GSP benefits must meet several criteria.  These criteria include whether and the extent to which the country has taken or is taking steps to afford workers in the country internationally recognized worker rights including the right of association; the right to organize and bargain collectively; a prohibition on compulsory labor; a minimum age for the employment of children; a prohibition on the worst forms of child labor; and acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work and occupational safety and health.

 

In 2008, as part of the annual review process, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), an American trade union, filed a petition with the US Government requesting a review of worker rights in Sri Lanka.  The AFL-CIO resubmitted an updated petition last year.  Any person may file a request to review the designation of any beneficiary country with respect to any of the designation criteria  The US Embassy shared the document with the Government of Sri Lanka several months ago. The petition from the AFL-CIO is available at: 

 

http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#documentDetail?R=0900006480afde7f

 

The U.S. Government’s acceptance of the petition begins the following process: 

 

·      There will be a public hearing, likely held in August, to discuss the worker rights issues raised by the AFL-CIO petition.  The Government of Sri Lanka will be invited to participate in the hearing.

 

·      Beginning before the hearing, the United States and Sri Lankan government will engage in a dialogue on any areas of concern with respect to worker rights. 

 

Acceptance of the petition is not a decision to revoke GSP nor does it set a deadline for a decision on action on GSP privileges.  It is the beginning of a formal, collaborative process to work with the Sri Lankan government to address the concerns in the petition and work to improve support of and adherence to worker rights.  GSP privileges will continue throughout the process.

 

The USG has a strong working relationship with the Government of Sri Lanka on labor issues.  As an example of our productive working relationship, the U.S. Government has recently sponsored a labor program, administered through the International Labor Organization.  This program emphasizes a tripartite dialogue on labor issues with the Government of Sri Lanka, employers and unions. 



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