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Sri Lanka: FM briefs EU envoys on economic challenges

Foreign Minister Gunawardena explained EU envoys this week 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.

EU Ambassadors sought clarifications regarding the recent import restrictions that were enforced and the likely time frame the restrictions would be lifted. Minister Gunawardena underlined that the import restrictions are reviewed as we move along, according to a statement issued by the Ministry. 

Ambassadors of Italy, Germany, Netherlands, France, Romania and the EU Delegation based in Colombo met at the Foreign Ministry Wednesday, to discuss recent developments, including those related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the next day(19), The European Union (EU) said in a joint statement that the current import restrictions by the government are having negative impacts on Sri Lankan and European businesses, and on Foreign Direct Investment.

The EU emphasised that trade is not a one-way street and 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, it added.  

EU recalled that a prolonged import ban is not in line with World Trade Organisation regulations. The EU delegation expressed concern on Sri Lanka’s withdrawal of support for the United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1.

The Government has stated its continuing commitment, including to the EU, to fostering reconciliation, justice and peaceful coexistence among Sri Lanka’s diverse communities. The EU stands ready to support the Government’s efforts in this area. The rule of law and a vibrant civil society are essential in this regard.

The EU stated that they are looking forward to continuing their deep engagement with Sri Lanka, in line with shared international commitments and obligations. On this occasion they underlined the EU’s long-standing support for Sri Lanka as a reliable partner, including through over 1 billion EUR of grants over the last 25 years, notwithstanding the Member States’ bilateral assistance.

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