EU urges govt. to push forward with economic reform agenda despite challenges

Published : 12:01 am  October 25, 2018 | No comments so far |  | 


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From right: European Union Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Tung-Lai Margue and NCCSL President Sujeewa Samaraweera
Pic by Waruna Wanniarachchi  


By Supun Dias

European Union (EU) Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Tung-Lai Margue said that the government must give priority to its economic reform agenda and should forge ahead with it, despite the challenges in the country’s political environment. 

“Sri Lanka has come to a point where it has understood that the economy could be driven through an export-oriented economy. Investors have given us positive feedback on the reforms and steps taken to make the country an investment-friendly nation. That is why we want the reforms to continue,” he said. 

He was speaking at a discussion organised by the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) on bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and the EU, at the NCCSL auditorium. 


Meanwhile, he said the reinstatement of the GSP Plus concessional tariff scheme has helped Sri Lanka to increase its export earnings, even in a volatile global market place marred by trade wars and economic sanctions.

“Sanctions on Iran led to high oil prices and tariffs on China have made a big impact on the developing markets. Amidst all these tensions, we want to be a reliable partner as the world’s largest single market. 

The EU is Sri Lanka’s second largest trade partner and the main export destination. Last year, Sri Lanka recorded US $ 15 billion from export earnings, which has impacted the economy in a very positive way and the reinstatement of GSP Plus was a key factor for this growth,” he noted. 

However, the ambassador urged the Sri Lankan government to diversify the country’s export basket to make full use of GS Plus. 

“If you take exports to the EU, 60 percent was from garments, which had a 4 percent growth last year. We have identified over 6000 items and goods that could be exported to our market. Therefore, we are working with the government and other stakeholders to create a national export strategy,” he said.

“Alongside, the government has to fight against corruption and manage its debt, which we are closely monitoring as a responsible international partner of Sri Lanka,” he added.

Meanwhile, NCCSL President Sujeewa Samaraweera said that trade has increased significantly since the reinstating of GSP Plus. 

“The national export strategy is something that we are working on with the EU, which will benefit us as a country, if we increase and diversify our exports,” he added.