Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera welcomed the European Commission’s decision to lift the red card on Sri Lanka’s fish exports to the European Union. “The lifting of the red card will allow Sri Lanka to resume fish exports to the EU’s 28 member countries. EU markets accounted for 68 percent of Sri Lanka’s fish exports, amounting to 108 million dollars and livelihood for thousands of fishermen and their families,” Samaraweera said in a statement.
The EU Commission initially issued Sri Lanka a yellow card in 2012. After repeated warnings on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing rule compliance failure it announced a ban on fish exports to the EU in October 2014.
“The new government, elected on the 8th of January 2015, took immediate measures to fulfil its manifesto commitment found at Point 65 of President Sirisena’s 100 Day Work Programme which states, “measures will be taken to revive the European Union market from which our fish is now being excluded.” On the 13th of January, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe wrote to the EU High Representative on Foreign Affairs, Fredrica Moghernini, requesting that the EU and Sri Lanka work together to address the issues which initiated the process for lifting the ban,” Samarasinghe said.
Given the importance of lifting the ban, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s second visit overseas after assuming duties as Foreign Minister was to Brussels at the end of January. Negotiations for lifting the ban were initiated during this visit. Over the last year and a quarter, the Minister of Fisheries and the relevant government departments have been working hard to ensure compliance with Sri Lanka’s international fishing obligations and secure a successful outcome in negotiations with the EU.
“The EU’s recommendation to life the ban is the culmination of this process. The EU Commission’s recommendation has been forwarded to the EU Council and is expected to come into legal effect by July,” the statement added.
Samaraweera also said that the government is looking forward to further close engagement with the EU on regaining the GSP+ concessions and sustainable development of martime resources as part of the government’s strategy for harnessing Sri Lanka’s rich ocean assets.