Is Fisheries Minister counting his chicks before they are hatched?

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Sri Lankan fish exports would enter the European Union (EU) member-countries with a 15 percent tax concession after receiving the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP+) plus privilege, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said yesterday.

According to the statistics, Sri Lanka exported a total of 13,932 MT of fish generating an income of Rs. 21,539 million last year.

Out of the total fish exports,1817 MT went to the countries of the European Union and 515 MT to other European countries. In addition 4088MT had been sent to United States, 1717MT to Japan and 5796 MT to other countries.

Highlighting the tuna exports, Minister Amaraweera cited that the total tuna fish export of 2016 was 7113 MT and the country earned Rs. 11,243 million. The tuna exports to the EU member-countries was 1216 MT and 379 MT to other European countries. Tuna exports to the United States last year was 2498 MT and to Japan it was 253 MT. A total of 2767 MT of tuna had been exported to other countries during last year.

The Minister said that the total income from the fish exports had dropped drastically during the last three years since the country had not received the GSP plus tariff concession and therefore the expected national income had also been reduced causing a serious setback for the development process as the government had to reduce the funds that had to be allocated from the national income.

However there were high possibilities of receiving the GSP plus tariff concession as the government had taken steps to improve its image internationally for its efforts to preserve human rights, Minister Amaraweera stressed.

Receiving GSP plus would immediately translate into saving of tens of millions of euros per year and it would give the country a comparative advantage and represents very tangible EU support to increase exports and investments, and diversify its industry, he said.

The restoration of the GSP+ trade concession would boost Sri Lanka’s fish export industry, he added.

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