Sri Lanka has reiterated its call for the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union.
The UK will hold a referendum next Thursday on whether the country will leave the European Union, a process often referred to as Brexit.
The referendum will ask voters whether the country should “remain a member of the European Union” or “leave the European Union.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva addressing a group of Sri Lankan British community leaders in London said Sri Lanka would like the UK to remain in the 28 member bloc.
Deputy Foreign Minister on his official Facebook said, he articulated to the Sri Lanka community on Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesignhe’s position that if UK leaves the EU that it will certainly have a significant negative impact on Sri Lankan exports to the EU.
Dr. Harsha de Silva stressed that Sri Lanka has formally applied for GSP+ and if Brexit happens it will see a serious dilution of the benefits Sri Lanka will receive from winning back GSP+ trade concession.
The Deputy Foreign Minister said almost 40% of Sri Lanka’s exports to the EU is in to the UK.
Dr. Harsha de Silva said, “If UK is not a part of the EU we will lose the duty free benefit. True, if UK exits, then we could renegotiate a FTA with the UK, but they will have to do a whole series of FTAs with European nations and others before they get to us.”
He said the challenges the world have to face would be easier to deal with, in a more stable global environment.
The Deputy Foreign Minister stressed that it is the right of the British public to decide, however noted Sri Lanka as a country would like for UK to stay.
Sri Lanka On BREXIT
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe earlier expressed concern over the probable impact of Britain’s exit from the European Union.
In an article on a British website Prime Minister Wickremesinghe voiced his concerns over a possible Brexit noting he had been a close observer of key political developments in the global landscape over the past 40 years.
The Premier highlighted the importance of a global macro-economic stability, especially for a country such as Sri Lanka, adding that the future of the European single market is of great importance as it accounts for more than 30 per cent of Lankan export trade.
The Premier said the disruption of this market would have global consequences.
The article read that the IMF Spring Meeting in 2016 concluded that the outlook for global economic growth has worsened, and the possible exit of the UK from the EU, was one of the greatest risks to the health of the global economy, leading to financial turbulence.
The Premier reiterated that Sri Lanka – as well as many other Asian countries – cannot afford further financial turbulence and another global economic downturn.
The IMF’s negative forecasts about the risks of a British exit are reinforced by the UK Treasury’s prediction of huge revenue losses to the British government.
The Premier said Sri Lanka, which has re-applied for the GSP has to follow a convoluted path to trade development in which individual negotiations have become its only option.
The Prime Minister also noted it is the world’s largest trading bloc, with 15 per cent of the world’s trade in goods and services for over 80 countries including Sri Lanka.
According to the Premier economic consequences of its disruption that could be caused by the UK pulling out of the EU would have an impact even on our part of the world.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he wished the people of UK all strength to make the correct decision on the 23rd of June.
Calls for a Referendum
UK Prime Minister David Cameron promised to hold a referendum if he won the 2015 general election, in response to growing calls from his own Conservative MPs and the UK Independence Party, who argued that Britain had not had a say since 1975, when it voted to stay in the EU in a referendum.
Cameron said: “It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics.”
The European Union
The European Union – often known as the EU – is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries. It began after World War Two to foster economic co-operation, with the idea that countries which trade together are more likely to avoid going to war with each other.
It has since grown to become a “single market” allowing goods and people to move around, basically as if the member states were one country.
It has its own currency, the euro, which is used by 19 of the member countries, its own parliament and it now sets rules in a wide range of areas – including on the environment, transport, consumer rights and even things like mobile phone charges.
British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens over 18 who are resident in the UK, along with UK nationals living abroad who have been on the electoral register in the UK in the past 15 years are eligible to vote.
Members of the House of Lords and Commonwealth citizens in Gibraltar will also be eligible, unlike in a general election.
Citizens from EU countries – apart from Ireland, Malta and Cyprus – will not get a vote.
The British public are fairly evenly split, according to the latest opinion polls.
The UK Independence Party, which won the last European elections, and received nearly four million votes – 13% of those cast – in May’s general election, campaigns for Britain’s exit from the EU.
About half of Conservative MPs, including five cabinet ministers, several Labour MPs and the DUP are also in favour of leaving.
They believe Britain is being held back by the EU, which they say imposes too many rules on business and charges billions of pounds a year in membership fees for little in return.
They also want Britain to take back full control of its borders and reduce the number of people coming here to live and/or work. One of the main principles of EU membership is “free movement”, which means you don’t need to get a visa to go and live in another EU country.
They also object to the idea of “ever closer union” and what they see as moves towards the creation of a “United States of Europe”.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron leads the “remain” camp, and he could lose his job if his effort fails.
Behind him are most of the Conservative government he leads, the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party, which is strongly pro-Europe.
Most independent economists and large businesses favor staying in, as do the most recent heads of Britain’s intelligence services.
US President Barack Obama, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Xi Jinping of China also want Britain to stay in.
The “leave” camp is led by Michael Gove, the justice minister, and Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London.
Nearly half the Conservative members of Parliament favor leaving, as do the members of the U.K. Independence Party, or UKIP, and its leader, Nigel Farage.
Their main issues are sovereignty and immigration.
Abroad, the French National Front leader Marine Le Pen favors Brexit, as do other anti-Europe parties in Germany, the Netherlands and elsewhere.
A Labour Party Member of the British Parliament Jo Cox, has died after she was shot and stabbed in an assault in her constituency.
Police said the Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was left bleeding on the ground after the attack in West Yorkshire.
A man was arrested nearby. One eyewitness told the BBC they heard her attacker shout “Put Britain first” at least twice beforehand.
Tributes flooded in from politicians including David Cameron, Jeremy Corbyn and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Cox’s husband Brendan said she would want people “to unite to fight against the hatred that killed her.”
Vote Leave and Remain have both suspended campaigning in the EU referendum in light of the attack.
If Britons vote to leave, there will be an initial two-year negotiation with the European Union about the terms of the divorce, which is unlikely to be amicable.
The negotiation will decide Britain’s relationship with the bloc. The major issues would surround trade.
If Britain wants to remain in the European Union’s common market — the world’s largest trading bloc, with 500 million people — Brussels is expected to exact a steep price, in particular to discourage other countries from leaving.