Colombo, June 28 (IANS) The Sri Lankan government on Tuesday said it will focus more on Asia, particularly India and China, to boost the local economy after Britain, in a historic referendum, decided to pull out from the European Union.
Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha de Silva said the withdrawal of Britain from the EU (Brexit) will hurt Sri Lanka’s economy, Xinhua news agency reported.
Silva said a committee has been appointed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to study the impact Brexit will have on Sri Lanka and the remedial measures the country must take.
“We will strengthen trade ties with Asia. We need to expedite the proposed trade agreements with China and India,” he said.
Britain is one of Sri Lanka’s biggest export markets and the country was hoping to improve trade with Britain under the EU GSP plus trade concession.
Silva said Sri Lanka will this week formally submit its application to regain GSP plus from the EU, but since Britain will now be out of the EU, Colombo will look to sign a new free trade agreement with the UK.
“We are now confident of getting back GSP plus but since Britain will not be in the EU we are studying the possibility of signing a free trade agreement with Britain,” Silva said.
Sri Lanka lost the EU GSP plus trade concession when the former government was in office over human rights related issues but the new government which took office last year has met most conditions to regain GSP plus.
Silva said Sri Lanka needs to cushion the impact Brexit will have on the country so it will push to agree on trade deals with several Asian countries.