In an opinion appearing on ‘i-news’, the Prime Minister noted that the UK has structured a European single market which gives them the best of both worlds.
“It is a single market of 500m people incorporating both the Eurozone and a Sterling area – two of the five IMF reserve currencies. Last year, London overtook New York once again to become the world’s foremost financial centre; the EU is the world’s largest economy, with more than 20 per cent of global GDP. It is the world’s largest trading bloc, with 15 per cent of the world’s trade in goods and services. It is also the biggest export market for more than 80 countries, including Sri Lanka,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the economic consequences of the disruption that could be caused by the UK pulling out of the EU would have an impact even on Sri Lanka and South Asia.
“Those of you who favour leaving contend that the UK could enter into a series of free trade agreements with the EU, the US, Asia and Commonwealth countries, and thereby cushion the impact of losing access to the European single market. In Sri Lanka, we suffered the consequences of losing the GSP+, a preferential trade deal with the EU, in the late 2000s. Going by our experience, the adverse impact off a UK pull-out would be far greater,” he said.
He also said that Sri Lanka is on the verge of re-applying for the GSP+ and is negotiating an economic and technology agreement with India, and discussing trade deals with China, Singapore and the US.
“We have to follow a convoluted path to trade development in which individual negotiations have become our only option, given that a single market for , our region, South Asia, is not feasible,” he added.
Wickremesinghe said he is amazed at a country which seems inclined to throw away its secure present for an uncertain future. He says exiting the European single market means standing in a queue while a country like Sri Lanka enters into agreements with the above-named countries. (Colombo Gazette)