Exports will be hit by Brexit, says minister
Sri Lanka said its trade would be hurt by the United Kingdom’s “nightmare” vote to leave the European Union, with $1bn in annual exports to the British market now clouded by uncertainty.
The South Asian nation famed for its tea and spices is on the brink of signing up to a scheme with the European Union that would grant it lower tariffs on many goods.
But with Britain its largest EU export market, the shock Brexit vote will make things tougher for the cash-strapped island, likely leading to new restrictions.
“We knew it was going to be a nightmare,” Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha de Silva said.
The dramatic fall in sterling is likely to inflict extra pain on Sri Lanka’s exporters, the minister added.
De Silva and colleagues had travelled to London last week to urge voters of Sri Lankan origin to support the “remain” campaign.
Britain is one of Sri Lanka’s biggest export markets and the country was hoping to improve trade with Britain under the EU GSP plus trade concession.
Silva said Sri Lanka will this week formally submit its application to regain GSP plus from the EU, but since Britain will now be out of the EU, Colombo will look to sign a new free trade agreement with the UK.
“We are now confident of getting back GSP plus but since Britain will not be in the EU we are studying the possibility of signing a free trade agreement with Britain,” Silva said. Sri Lanka lost the EU GSP plus trade concession when the former government was in office over human rights related issues but the new government which took office last year has met most conditions to regain GSP plus.
De Silva said Colombo would now look to fast-track separate free trade agreements with China and India to counter the damage. He said a committee has been appointed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to study the impact Brexit will have on Sri Lanka and the remedial measures the country must take.
“We will strengthen trade ties with Asia. We need to expedite the proposed trade agreements with China and India,” he said. The government hopes to finalise a free-trade deal with Singapore within a month and is discussing similar agreements with Japan and South Korea. Sri Lanka this month received the first tranche of a $1.5bn bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund.
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Mr Hon Minister,
Please note that British Citizens did not vote against buying Sri Lankan Tea and spices. The demand for those items will continue to remain and Mr Minister, it is up to you to negotiate fresh and immensely beneficial deals with the UK in the absence of the bureaucratic high-handedness of the EU.
Mr Minister, please do not transfer the reasons for the economic disaster caused by the Sena-Singhe Government to the outcome of the BREXIT vote.
Mr Minister, you are pathetic and unfit to be a leader peddling stupid reasons for the failures of the Government to which you belong.
We have no idea how these idiots are accessing the situation and relating it with SL.
These pathetic politicians are trying to use each and every situation to cover up their own issues.
Some of the idiots in the country still believes as what they say.
Your main export are the people to do menial jobs in UK. USA. Middle East and Far East.
That want be effected by UK leaving the EU.
Dear Mr. Somasundaram,
Yours is a short but good analysis of Minister Silva’s sporadic nightmare which was a writing on the wall visible to everyone except to those in the yahapalanaya. Blaming the MR regime for all the ills seems to have lost its shine and glamour and they have resorted to cling to any straw in their bid for survival.
We exported to UK because they too need our goods. May be we did this under EU trade regulations. UK will still import our products with their own rules & regulations. Besides as I understand to get out of EU is a process and will take another two years or so. Here the Yaha Palanaya is using this as a Red Herring to sighn ETCA. Yahapalanaya has to remember Sri Lankans hate ETCA as Majority of Britain hated EU.
Export our quality fish, good vegetables and (thank goodness for British)and our superb tea. and let the locals eat the left over rubbish. ,
Mr Amarakoon they also need our university graduates to do all the menial jobs that natives don’t wont to do.
the average yokel is clueless to dream about the Brexit for him it is a live nightmare. This guy is living in a world of fantasy. The bankrupt economy is faced with the problem paying salaries of an overloaded public service starting with the government with over hundred ministries and their responsibilities overlap and always the direction is in conflict and those reporting are either coming or going.
Fonseka for a military man is not without reason and unlike other ministers is ambitious. Since he left his military command he has been a loser, he lost his bid to be a president and soon after he was found holed up in a *****hotel with not even a brigade to back except for a platoon. The parliament is like the forum in ancient rome where people fought more often than they debated and eventually leading to an over dramatised killing of julius and all told only about a dozen were involved while the rest watched until antony came from nowhere to make the famous shakespeares funeral oration. where was cicero then