Sri Lanka has urged the United States to renew a key trade concession which remains suspended since late last year, the Sri Lankan External Affairs Ministry said on Tuesday.
Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United States Jaliya Wickramasuriya has in a letter to the US Senate said that imports of products from Sri Lanka to the US had seen a drastic drop since the trade concession was suspended. The US Generalised System of Preference, also known as GSP, is a trade concession given to several countries including Sri Lanka by the US Government.
However, the US GSP was not renewed by US legislators by the due date late last year, resulting in its automatic suspension to all benefiting countries.
The Ministry said on Tuesday that Ambassador Wickramasuriya as well as envoys from other US GSP benefiting countries, including Fiji, Indonesia, Philippines and Kosovo, had signed the letter seeking for the urgent renewal of the trade concession.
The lack of GSP has caused Sri Lanka to lose top supplier positions in products in which it held strong market niches.
Overall US imports of construction vehicle tyres increased by nearly 10 per cent in the first seven months of 2011. However, imports from top supplier Sri Lanka dropped by 28.5 per cent as a result of the US GSP suspension, pushing the country down to the number two supplier position.
As a result China leapfrogged into the top supplier position with an import increase of more than 50 per cent, the letter sent to the US Senate said.
US imports of gold and silver jewellery from Sri Lanka have also taken a hit, with gold jewellery imports to the US from Sri Lanka dropping 26.5 per cent, the Sri Lankan External Affairs Ministry said.
Sri Lanka and other US GSP beneficiaries say the decrease in imports is causing job losses, economic declines in many industries and regions, and a drop in competitiveness for critically-needed investment for the respective countries.