Sri Lanka formally applied to regain the lucrative European Union’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) trade concession last evening, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Harsha de Silva said. Sri Lanka applied for the European Union trade concession for garment exports, six years after the country lost the discount over its failure to address human rights concerns.
Addressing a press conference at the Information Department yesterday, the minister said the application will be forwarded by the Sri Lankan envoy in Brussels on behalf of the government of Sri Lanka.
“The EU has to make the decision in about six months and we believe that the country will be able to regain the GSP + in another 8 months, completing all the needed procedures,”he said.
Sri Lanka will have to compete with the other countries to go for a trade agreement with UK.
The minister said that Sri Lanka hope to enter into trade agreements with the United Kingdom but there will be a huge competition as the other countries also will go for new trade agreements with UK. The observation was made at the Information Department yesterday, expressing concern about the impact on the country’s economy by the UK’s exit from the European Union.
He further said that Sri Lanka should focus on the country’s exports targeting the social market economy.
He said that as stock markets and currencies have tumbled, there will be a huge impact on the nation’s economy as 40 percent of trade agreements between Sri Lanka and the European Union is with the UK adding that the country suffered the consequences of losing the GSP+. “The government has formed an expert committee to make recommendations on the government’s strategy to respond to the Brexit fallout,” he said.
Minister Silva said that the government will enhance trade deals with Asian countries adding that the government is discussing trade deals with India, Japan, China, Pakistan and Singapore.
He said Sri Lanka will get the GSP+ in another eight months adding that the government has taken all the measures to regain it. He also added that there will be a huge impact on the tourism sector as well.
When asked about the High Commissioner to UK, Minister Silva said that Amari Wijewardene will be appointed as the High Commissioner shortly.
Responding to a question about the measures taken by the government to support the UK remain in the EU, Minister Silva said that all politicians in the Conservative and Labour party wanted to remain and the decision to leave EU was taken by the people there.
“We did not encourage or advice people to vote in favour of the EU,”he added.