ECOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has a welcomed a decision by the European Commission to recommend the lifting of a fishery trading ban and expects exports to the European Union to resume in July 2016.
"The lifting of the red card will allow Sri Lanka to resume fish exports to the EU’s 28 member countries," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"EU markets accounted for 68 percent of Sri Lanka’s fish exports, amounting to 108 million dollars and livelihood for thousands of fishermen and their families."
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had written to EU High Representative on Foreign Affairs, Fredrica Moghernini on January 13, 2015 within days of being elected, requesting that Sri Lanka and European Union to work together to resolve the crisis.
Minister Samaraweera had also visited Brussels in January initiating negotiations on lifting the ban.
Given the importance of lifting the ban, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s second visit overseas after assuming duties as Foreign Minister was to Brussels at the end of January.
"Over the last year and a quarter, the Minister of Fisheries and the relevant government departments have been working hard to ensure compliance with Sri Lanka’s international fishing obligations and secure a successful outcome in negotiations with the EU," the Foreign Ministry said.
The European Commission said Sri Lanka had taken action to combat illegal fishing and it was recommending the lifting of the ban and European Union Fisheries Council will take up the issue at the "next available opportunity."
Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry is expecting the ban to be lifted in July.