- Stresses trade is not “a one-way street”
- Points out import restrictions impair SL’s efforts to become regional hub and impede FDI
- Stresses prolonged import ban not in line with WTO’s regulations
- Reminds that “thanks” to EU’s GSP Plus, SL enjoys duty free access to EU market
The European Union (EU) yesterday expressed its displeasure over Sri Lanka continuing to impose restrictions on imports stressing that trade is “not a one-way street”.
The EU pointed out that the current import restrictions, that were put in place to help improve the island nation’s balance of payment position, is having a negative impact on Sri Lankan and European businesses, and on the country’s foreign direct investment (FDI).
“Such measures impair Sri Lanka’s efforts to become a regional hub and negatively impact Sri Lankan exports by constraining the import of raw material and machinery. We recall that a prolonged import ban is not in line with World Trade Organisation regulations,” the Delegation of the European Union (EU) in Sri Lanka said in a joint statement with the Embassies of France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands.
The statement noted that the EU’s position was communicated to the Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardenathrough a series of high-level meetings.
Highlighting that the EU is a crucial economic partner for Sri Lanka, the statement said, “Thanks to the EU’s special Generalised System of Preferences (GSP Plus), Sri Lanka enjoys competitive, predominantly duty- and quota-free access to the EU market, based on the continued implementation of 27 international conventions on human rights, labour, environment, climate change and good governance.”
“Not least due to these unilateral trade preferences, the EU is the second-biggest export market for Sri Lanka worldwide, with a positive trade balance of more than 1 billion EUR (Rs. 220 billion) in 2018 and 2019,” it added.
The statement also highlighted that Sri Lanka’s withdrawal of support for the United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1 remains a source of concern.
“The government has stated its continuing commitment, including to the EU, to fostering reconciliation, justice and peaceful coexistence among Sri Lanka’s diverse communities. The EU stands ready to support the government’s efforts in this area. The rule of law and a vibrant civil society are essential in this regard,” the statement noted.