Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says that Sri Lanka has received an assurance from the United Kingdom that despite it leaving the EU, the trade preferences already enjoyed by other countries would be maintained.
“The day after we will get the tariff concessions to enter the European Union market, which is the GSP Plus.”
“We have also been assured by the UK that while they will leave the union, the trade preferences already enjoyed by the countries would be maintained,” he said, addressing the Women Leadership Summit of the SAARC Chamber Women Entrepreneurs Council in Colombo.
He stated that the EU is the richest market and that it’s not just the question of entry into a market for Sri Lanka. “It is a significant land mark because it is also the beginning of our economy becoming an export oriented economy.”
The prime minister also said that the government is discussing the deepening of existing FTAs with foreign countries.
“We are now discussing deepening some of the existing free trade agreements, entering into new.”
These are not all going to come into effect overnight destroying our domestic industry, he assured. “We are spreading it out – some times over ten years – so that there is time for them to adjust and become more competitive.”
We are providing them with tax incentives with other facilities that there will be a trade adjustment package because first we have to work with the people who are on the ground, he said referring to existing exporters and existing manufacturers for the domestic market.
Pointing to some of the measures the government is preparing to take next year, he stated that trade connectivity will be deepened in a way that Sri Lanka’s domestic enterprises can benefit from and also that the administrative barriers will be removed in order to ensure the ease of doing business.
He stated that South Asia has a good future. “If you look at 2050, Pakistan, Indian, Bangladesh will have a tremendous growth in population. So is Myanmar and Indonesia. On the other hand East Africa, parts of West Asia.”
“So this is where the growth is. But to benefit from that growth, we have to ensure that we are fully integrated and each of our national economies can also respond to the challenge.”