Sri Lanka warns of threat to EU market access

Governor of the Central Bank Prof W D Lakshman addressing representatives from Sampath Bank PLC, UCSC, Norbloc AB, Yaala Labs (Pvt) Ltd and Linearsix (Pvt) Ltd

Mar 26, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s exports to Europe are growing despite recession there but its markets could be threatened by easier access given to competing export nations, an official said. Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka, said in 2011, Sri Lanka exported 3.6 billion US dollars worth of good to the European Union, with the single market accounting for 35 percent of the island’s total export earnings for the year.

The top five EU recipients of Sri Lankan exports were UK, Italy, Germany, Belgium and France.

“At the same time, while we are moving to increase our market penetration levels in EU, we are also aware that the EU market has become an increasingly uneven or non-level playing field,” Bathiudeen said.

” . . . our competitors are obtaining preferential access to an extent and degree that defies the principles of free enterprise and comparative advantage.”

Preferences extended by the EU to Sri Lanka’s competitors range from commercial and economic partnership arrangements to complete duty free access based on traditional bilateral relationships.

“Such special preferences extended to specific groups of countries can result in th