Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the European Union (EU) Dennis Chaibi has warned that since Sri Lanka has severely restricted imports from countries including the European Union (EU) and that it would be difficult for the EU to pressure the European trade community to increase Sri Lanka’s exports to the region.
In an interview with the English Daily Mirror newspaper, Chaibi said that though is a tentatively acceptable situation in the face of the current foreign exchange crisis however continued restrictions on the import of European products into Sri Lanka could weaken Sri Lanka’s ability to exert pressure to export more products into the European market.
In the interview with journalist Kelum Bandara, Chaibi further stated that Sri Lanka, which was rated by the World Bank as an upper middle income country with a per capita income of over US $ 4,000 in 2019, has now fallen below that limit again this year and is likely to become a lower middle income country thus qualifying it to receive the GSP plus concession.
“In July, 2019, Sri Lanka became an upper middle-income country, just above the US $ 4000 limit per capita. Sri Lanka fell below that threshold this year. It means, at least for three more years, Sri Lanka will continue to have access to the EU market at zero percent tariff rate for two-thirds of its customs line provided that it adheres to international conventions and all conditions. If Sri Lanka is still a lower middle-income country in 2021, it would have access to GSP + for 2022, 2023 and 2024, provided all other conditions are met” he said.
Commenting on a recent statement by Foreign Secretary Jayanath Colombage on Sri Lanka’s foreign policy is going to be Asia-centric, Chaibi said If you look at geography and demographics, it is the most natural thing for Sri Lanka to have an Asia-centric foreign policy.
“In terms of demographics, neither India nor China can be beaten by any country. It is totally normal to have an Asia-centric foreign policy. That is notable and compatible with good relations with the European Union.” he added.
Link to the original interview : http://www.dailymirror.lk/opinion/Sri-Lanka-will-have-access-to-GSP-for-three-more-years-EU-Ambassador-Deni-Chaibi/231-196895