EconomyNext – A European Union ban on fishery exports from Sri Lanka could be resolved in a matter of months given the island’s moves to comply with international regulations, a visiting EU parliamentary trade official has said.
Jan Zahradil, a Vice-Chair of the EU Committee on International Trade (INTA) and Member of EU Parliament, said his visit is aimed at removing irritants in trade between the EU and Sri Lanka.
The EU’s INTA is the powerful implementer of its common commercial policy and external economic relations, including trade and investment legislation such as trade agreements like the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) and the Market Access Regulation.
Sri Lanka’s total trade with EU in 2014 stood at 5.07 billion US dollars, up 3.6 percent from 2013 with the island’s three biggest exports being apparel, tyres and frozen fish.
Zahradil said the EU Parliamentary Group ‘Friends of Sri Lanka’, of which he is a member, wants to assess how to help Sri Lanka on removing the ban fishery exports and resuming the GSP plus export scheme which the island lost owing to human rights issues.
His comments came during talks with Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka on 06 March, along with other trade officials, a statement said.
He was quoted as saying in a statement that his visit as a precursor to the visit of an EU fishery expert delegation.
"Once monthly progress reports are sent to the European Commission we could try to put this on the agenda as a special point and can help solve this issue as soon as possible, perhaps in a horizon of months and not let it last for too long," he said.
Bathiudeen told Zahradil a special Sri Lankan government committee has been appointed on the fishery ban that now meets on a weekly basis to take action that has reduced the number of illegal fishing vessels.