The EU delegation led by EU Ambassador to Sri Lanka Tun Lai Margue, was assisted by the representatives of the other EU member states
The Development Strategy and International Trade Ministry and Board of Investment (BoI) of Sri Lanka conducted a dialogue with the European Union (EU) embassy and embassies of the EU representative countries for the second time.
The EU delegation was led by EU Ambassador to Sri Lanka Tun Lai Margue, who was assisted by the representatives of the other EU member states.
The countries represented were France, Germany, the Netherlands and UK but also included representatives from Bulgaria, Austria, Hungary, Greece and Denmark, who are posted in New Delhi but accredited to Sri Lanka. Also participating were senior officials of the EU based in New Delhi.
The Sri Lankan side was led by Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama, who was assisted by Development Strategies and International Trade Ministry Secretary Chandanie Wijayawardhana, Board of Investment (BOI) of Sri Lanka Chairman Upul Jayasuriya, BOI Director General Duminda Ariyasinghe and Export Development Board Chairperson Indira Malwatte.
Furthermore, a number of important Sri Lankan institutions dealing with investors and other economic issues were also present at the meeting. These included among many others, a number of important ministries such as the Foreign and Health Ministries, and vital institutions such as the BOI, Customs and Inland Revenue Department.
Samarawickrama stated that it was very hard to get this concession and that Sri Lanka was very pleased to be able to regain the advantages of GSP+.
He expressed his appreciation to the diplomatic missions present.
The minister also stated that the Sri Lankan government was now implementing a development strategy that was private sector led. He added that the country’s economic development was characterized by a strong commitment to be inclusive with regards to all parts of the island and also to uphold the highest standards of good governance.
Sri Lanka was also seeking to strengthen her free trade agreements (FTAs) within the course of this year.
Samarawickrama spoke of the FTAs with Singapore scheduled to be finalized in June – July 2017 and another with China expected around by the end of the year. Furthermore, Sri Lanka was also strengthening her economic relation with India. This was done with the objective of developing Sri Lanka as an excellent hub for trade between the important economic centres in the region.
When GSP+ is regained, Sri Lanka’s goods would have access to some of the most important markets in the world.
The minister stated that Sri Lanka’s objective should be to double her exports, currently valued at US $ 11 billion by 2020. Margue thanked the minister for sharing an insight into the government’s future plans. He added that the meeting was very significant because it also included the representatives of the EU accredited to Sri Lanka but based in India from Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Hungary and Greece. He added that Sri Lanka was likely to regain GSP+ within a short time and he was keen to obtain an assurance that the EU enterprises are accorded fair access to the Sri Lankan market.
The focus of the meeting was to look at the issues faced by the EU companies based in Sri Lanka as well as to examine the ways in which the relations could be further enhanced.