The U.S. government is still reviewing the petition filed against the extension of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade benefit for Sri Lanka, its embassy in Colombo said on Saturday.
U.S. President Barack Obama had on Friday signed into law the reauthorization of the GSP trade benefit for Sri Lanka and several other countries after it lapsed in December last year. The bill makes GSP benefits retroactive to Jan. 1, 2011.
As the GSP program was renewed retroactively, Sri Lankan exporters will be reimbursed for tariffs paid during the gap period, the U.S. embassy.
However the embassy said the U.S. Trade Representative's office which had accepted petitions to review whether Sri Lanka met GSP eligibility criteria related to worker rights is still reviewing the petition.
"That review is still pending and the U.S. government continues to have productive discussions with the government of Sri Lanka. However GSP benefits are unaffected throughout this review process, " the U.S. embassy said.
As part of the normal GSP process in the United States, the U.S. Trade Representative's office receives petitions to withdraw or limit a country's benefits on criteria including whether a country is taking steps to afford internationally recognized standards for worker rights.
The U.S. GSP is a program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 4,800 products from 129 designated beneficiary countries and territories including Sri Lanka, which benefited from GSP treatment on approximately 147 million U.S. dollars of goods in 2010.