Sri Lanka is hoping to grow trade with both the European Union and UK, if necessary by signing a separate deal with the breakaway nation, Commerce Minister Rishard Bathiudeen said.
In 2015, Sri Lanka exported 3.0 billion dollars of exports to the EU and 1.0 billion dollars was to the UK, he said. About 80 percent of exports to the UK was apparel followed by footwear and Ceylon tea.
“If the UK separates in two years we need to understand that a new door has opened, but unlike many other doors, we do not know where it leads to,” Bathiudeen told a forum on services trade organized by the Department of Commerce and the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies in Colombo.
“We keenly look forward to both these markets. It gives an opening for Sri Lanka for a one-to-one trade agreement with the UK.”
Bathiudeen said since 2010, trade with the UK has grown 17 percent.
UK has to formally kick off separation by invoking the so-called ‘Article 50’ of the EU covenant. UK is hoping to negotiate its way out and keep it access to the single market, but limit immigration.
If not negotiations are done to sign new agreements, EU laws and agreements will automatically cease to operate in two years.