While assuring that the government was planning to work towards regaining GSP Plus in the same manner as they did to lift the EU fish ban on Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said today the government was in the final stage of formulating the ECTA Agreement with India.
“We plan to work towards regaining GSP Plus in the same manner and are in the process of assuring the international community that Sri Lanka abides by norms and standards expected of a democratic nation. We plan to enter into several bilateral agreements that will empower the economy and drive the country forward,” he said.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said the government was in the final stage of formulating the ECTA Agreement with India and added that it was also reviewing the FTA with China.
“Additionally, we are looking at entering into such partnerships with Singapore, Turkey, USA and Pakistan,” he said.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said the main reason why the fish ban was issued in the first instance was the inability of the previous Government to honour international agreements and mechanisms Sri Lanka was party to.
“Instead of abiding by these agreements, the Rajapakse Regime preferred to encourage illegal fishing activities, resulting in Sri Lanka becoming isolated and internationally condemned,” he said in a statement.
“At the time, we raised this issue many times in Parliament but the Rajapakse Regime took no note. When international and regional associations brought the issue of illegal and unregulated fishing to the notice of the then Government, instead of heeding such warnings, the Rajapakse Regime chose to issue verbal challenges and empty threats. Not stopping that, they continued to deceive the people by engaging in right sounding banter about not giving into any foreign country even in the face of starvation,” Prime Minister further said in his statement.
Mr. Wickremesinghe said EU’s fish ban on Sri Lanka, resulted in a colossal loss of valued foreign exchange to the country and added that Sri Lanka also lost the GSP Plus facility, which saw a considerable number of garment factories close down and thousands losing their jobs.
He said the government’s end goal was the creation and sustenance of a dynamic and thriving economic hub that would generate thousands of jobs.