The Foreign Minister yesterday said that Brexit posed several challenges to Sri Lanka, slashing the benefits the country was poised to receive with the granting of GSP+ concessions by the European Union (EU) as close to 40% of exports were to the United Kingdom.
“For a country heavily reliant on exports the post-Brexit scenario presents several challenges. Sri Lanka’s exports to the UK will lose the benefit of the GSP+ which we are anticipating to be restored later this year. Any depreciation in the value of the pound will also adversely affect Sri Lanka’s exports and inbound tourism,” Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said while speaking at an event organised by the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute.
At present the EU is one of the biggest trading partners of the country and is one of the key financing partners for infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka.
However, he said that the implication of Brexit transcends economic interests, adding that “the EU must champion universal democratic values and principles. The EU must preserve its co-values such as fundamental freedom and good governance.” “France together with Germany along with the EU must be able to inspire societies in transition such as Sri Lanka, which is emerging as a shining example of a country that seeks to fully regain its once heralded domestic credentials.”
Speaking of change in the foreign policy of the country, he said that the current Government actively engages with the rest of the world instead of the “self-isolation” followed previously, adding that the country was now ready to “begin a much desired healing process of a fractured nation.”
He further stated that significant steps had been taken in terms of reconciliation, including the move to establish the Office of Missing Persons, the gazette for which is to be issued in the near future. “Our relations with the rest of the world have been reset and are steadily progressing towards a new and productive partnership,” he said, highlighting that Sri Lanka was looking to reignite economic growth and make it inclusive and sustainable.
Pix by Lasantha Kumara