By Ishara Gamage
Ceylon Finance Today: The prospects of Lanka gaining back the EU’s GSP plus preferential trade concessions are brighter, if Sri Lanka adheres in to the EU requirements, new British High Commissioner, James Dauris said yesterday.
He made this remarks during the breakfast meeting, which was organized by the council for business with Britain.
“I don’t want to comment about various countries’ human rights track record. Giving back the GSP status is strictly a European Union matter,” he remarked.
Sri Lanka has tremendous opportunities to attract UK investments. Specially, rural Sri Lanka can benefit those potential investments, he further said.
“We maintain close relationships with UK businesses in Sri Lanka through the Council for Business with Britain, the British Business Group and other organizations”.
“Links between Sri Lanka and the UK have always been strong and the UK is one of the top five investors in Sri Lanka.”
“We as a UK government have invested 300 million pounds in various Sri Lankan businesses through UK Trade & Investment services, during past years, mostly for rural bridge building activities”, he said.
The trade balance between Sri Lanka and Britain is currently in very much favour of Sri Lanka.
He said Sri Lanka exported products 1.5 billion pounds worth of products and services to UK, but Sri Lanka only import 150 million pounds worth of goods. Sri Lanka’s main exports overall are textiles, clothing and tea. There are over 100 companies in Sri Lanka with UK affiliation across a wide range of sectors.
The UK is Sri Lanka’s number one business partner for Higher Education and professional training. The UK is also the preferred option for latest technology partnerships, Eg: the tie up between a Sri Lankan ICT company and the London Stock Exchange Group.
Sri Lanka is already home to some of the big UK companies, including Marks and Spencer’s, HSBC, De La Rue Currency, Standard Chartered Bank and Rolls Royce, among others.