Sri Lanka will begin the New Year with
inauspicious news coming from US, its biggest export market, that the much
sought after General System of Preferences which provides concession duty
structure for the Islands exports to Washington would no longer be available
from January 01 according to Sri Lankan media reports.
The US embassy in Colombo yesterday broke the bad
news through a statement headlined ‘Generalized System of Preferences Program
Expires on December 31, 2017’. It said "The United States Congress
did not re-authorize GSP before adjourning for the year. The immediate
effect of GSP expiration is GSP eligible imports to the United States from Sri
Lanka will be subject to non-preferential duties beginning January 1,
2018. Higher duties need to be paid for Sri Lankan tea which is exported
in a big way to US.
The United States is proud to serve as the top
export market for Sri Lanka. According to the Global Trade Atlas, in 2016, the
United States imported $2.8 billion of Sri Lankan goods". According
to available data in 2014 when Sri Lanka exported US$ 2.5 billion worth of
products to US, approximately seven percent or US$ 179 million worth of goods
went under the GSP scheme.
The news however came amidst the veiled threat
issued by the Trump administration against countries who voted against the
Washington decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. The U.N.
body voted 128-9 to declare Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as
Israel’s capital "null and void." Thirty-five nations abstained.
President Trump warned last week that the
vote could impact "billions of dollars" in U.S. aid.