ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka explained that it had had to impose import restrictions due to the fall in foreign exchange income due to the Covid 19 global pandemic at a meeting Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena had with envoys from the European Union a statement from his office said.
The Minister “explained the challenges Sri Lanka was facing on its economy and the foreign currency reserves due to the significant reduction in remittances and tourism revenues induced by the COVID-19 global pandemic,” the statement said.
It added that Gunawardena told Ambassadors at the meeting held on Wednesday “that the import restrictions are reviewed as we move along.”
The EU Ambassadors “highlighted that Sri Lanka’s exports to the EU market worth EUR 2.3 billion, continued to grow and benefit from the EU GSP+, which allows duty-free access for over 6,000 export product categories. In this regard, the Ambassadors sought clarifications regarding the recent import restrictions that were enforced and the likely timeframe the restrictions would be lifted,” the statement said.
In a statement issued by the EU, it said the envoys raised concerns over import controls slammed in the wake of monetary instability in March and April 2020.
The EU delegation said the EU had bought more than a billion Euros worth of goods (220 billion rupees) from Sri Lanka than it bought 2018 and 2019 creating a so-called trade surplus in favour of Sri Lanka.
“Trade, however, is not a one-way street,” it said.
“The current import restrictions are having a negative impact on Sri Lankan and European businesses, and on Foreign Direct Investment.
“Such measures impair Sri Lanka’s efforts to become a regional hub and negatively impact Sri Lankan exports by constraining the import of raw material and machinery.
“We recall that a prolonged import ban is not in line with World Trade Organisation regulations.”
(Colombo, November 20, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana