High powered Ratwatte committee meet to discuss Brexit, ETCA

By Saman Indrajith

A 12-member prime ministerial sub committee to find ways and means of countering possible ill-effects of Britain’s exit from the European Union and to expedite the signing of the Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement with India and a bilateral trade pact with China, met for the first time yesterday.

Former Treasury Secretary Charitha Ratwatte acts as the Convenor of the committee appointed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Its other members are Governor of the Central Bank Dr Indrajit Coomaraswamy, former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran, Secretary to the Treasury R. H. S. Samaratunga, Advisor to the Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs R. Paskaralingam, Advisor to the President on Economic Affairs Sarath Rajakaruna, Economist Dr. Saman Kelegama, Krishan Dissanayake, Prof Sirimal Abeyratne, Nishan de Mel, Chief Economist at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Anushka Wijesinghe and Murtaza Jafferjee.

The Committee is also tasked with finding means and means of attracting new markets for the Lankan goods in the Asia Pacific region to mitigate the anticipated adverse impact of Brexit.

About 40 percent of Sri Lanka’s exports go to the EU market. The exit of UK could affect Sri Lanka’s export-oriented garment factories. Therefore the country needed to implement an alternative programme. While regaining the GSP+ facility as soon as possible, the country should initiate a separate trade agreement with the UK, an official of the PM’s office said.

The Committee is expected to expedite the proposed bi-lateral agreements with India and China, the official said, adding that the committee had also been instructed to finalise work with regard to trade, technological and economic agreements Sri Lanka was scheduled to enter with Singapore during Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s scheduled visit to that country on July 18 and 19.