Foreign Minister tells EU envoys why Imports are restricted

Foreign Minister tells EU envoys why Imports are restricted

The Government has revealed that it was forced to impose a ban on imports due to a drop in foreign exchange income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena mentioned this during a meeting with envoys of the European Union on Wednesday (18).

Minister Gunawardena briefed the envoys on the various challenged faced by Sri Lanka, such as foreign currency reserves due to the significant reduction in remittances and tourism revenues due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The restrictions imposed on imports will be reviewed as the country moves forward, he said.

Meanwhile, the EU Ambassadors said the EU GSP+, which allows duty-free access for over 6,000 export product categories had helped Sri Lanka’s exports market worth over EUR 23 billion to continue to grow.

The EU Ambassadors had inquired from Minister Gunawardena the specifications of the import ban and the likely timeframe for the ban to be lifted.

Raising concerns over the import ban being imposed during monetary instability in March and April 2020, the envoys pointed out that the EU had bought more than Rs. 220 billion worth of goods from Sri Lanka than it did in 2018 and 2019 creating a so-called trade surplus in favour of the country.

The EU Ambassadors said the current import restrictions are having a negative impact on Sri Lankan and European businesses, and on Foreign Direct Investment.

“We recall that a prolonged import ban is not in line with World Trade Organisation regulations,” they pointed out.