Nov 19, Colombo: The government’s current import restrictions are having a negative impact on Sri Lankan and European businesses, and on Foreign Direct Investment, the Delegation of the European Union (EU) said Thursday.
Issuing a statement together with the Embassies of France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Romania, the EU noted that the trade, is not a one-way street and government’s 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 Organization regulations,” the EU delegation said.
As COVID-19 continues to bring a number of challenges, the Colombo-based Heads of Missions representing the European Union and its Member States, have held a series of high-level meetings, including with Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.
“On this occasion, we underlined the EU’s long-standing support for Sri Lanka as a reliable partner, including through over 1 billion EUR of grants over the last 25 years, notwithstanding the Member States’ bilateral assistance.”
The statement added that in addition to EU’s significant development cooperation, the EU is a crucial economic partner for Sri Lanka.
“Thanks to the EU’s special Generalized System of Preferences (GSP+), 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, labor, environment, climate change and good governance,” the delegation pointed out in its statement.
“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 (about 220 billion LKR) in 2018 and 2019,” the statement added.
The EU delegation also said Sri Lanka’s withdrawal of support for the United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1 remains a source of concern.
Noting that 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 said it 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,” it added.
“We are looking forward to continuing our deep engagement with Sri Lanka, in line with our shared international commitments and obligations,” the EU delegation emphasized.