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The Commerce Department this week pointed out that revolving around the World Trade Organisation (WTO) trade remedies are a number of misconceptions that could tax the private sector greatly, if it fails to understand the tools.

Stating that greater the misconception, less effective the remedies would be, Commerce Department Director General Commerce Sonali Wijeratne stressed the need for the private sector to play a more participative role in this regard.

“There are a number of misconceptions and misunderstandings regarding these measures and it is vital that the applicant or the petitioner, usually the private sector, understand exactly to what limits these instruments can be used and the extents of their effectiveness,” said Wijeratne, while addressing the representatives at the EU-Sri Lanka Trade-Related Assistance workshop this week in Colombo.

The remedies referred to are the anti-dumping, countervailing and safeguard measures that Sri Lanka will be able to capitalize on, having acceded to the WTO Trade Agreement recently.

Adding it is time the private sector “go back and learn the fundamentals”, which, according to her, are not very technical to grasp, Wijeratne warned.

“There is a whole load of details you need to understand before using the tools legitimately. If you don’t, you can be challenged by industries of other nations where you will end up paying compensation.”

To date, Sri Lanka has against it six petitions under the three key areas.

To ensure the remedies are used in the right manner, a special budget has been allocated under the EU-Sri Lanka Trade-Related Assistance project for further training. The four-year project that will be implemented with a funding of EUR 8 million would assist Sri Lanka in integrating the policies and regulatory reforms of the WTO.

Furthermore, with the government having recently decided to circulate two trade remedy bills (anti-dumping and countervailing measures) in parliament, efforts are underway in providing domestic legal mechanisms to carry out the investigations of the alleged unfair trade practices.

In a bid to ensure Sri Lanka works with these legislations in an effective manner, the Attorney General’s Department stressed the need for more lawyers and law firms to be conversant with the upcoming laws.

According to EU-Sri Lanka Trade-Related Assistance Programme National Project Coordinator Dr. Dayaratna Silva, if requested, the project would accommodate special training sessions for lawyers on the subject area.