There are many opportunities for an expansion of bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and the European Union said Minister Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion Anura Priyadharshana Yapa, at the European Union Summit which was held last week in Colombo.
Sri Lanka greatly values her economic relations with the European Union which has been, since our independence, one of our leading trading partners, Minister said.
European Union investments in Sri Lanka represent a total of over one billion dollars and employ 73,000 workers. In 2008, EU companies invested US$ 354 million (Euro 265 million) in Sri Lanka, he said.
These enterprises originated from Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The EU`s economic presence in our country represents 269 factories and other enterprises that include both fully owned European Union ventures and joint ventures with Sri Lankan companies, he said.
The sectors they represent include textiles and apparel, the IT and BPO sectors, gems and jewellery, ceramics, rubber products, coir products, wooden and soft toys, tourism, infrastructure, light and heavy engineering, electronic products and food processing.
The European Union is considered today the world`s largest trading block and though consisting of 27 very different countries with often varied aspirations, it has achieved cohesion on many vital areas governing the economy.
Much has been achieved since the Treaty of Rome of 1957, when the European Union`s founding fathers conceptualized a common market as a first step towards greater European integration in the aftermath of World War II.
The European Union is an excellent example of how confidence-building measures can put an end to long-standing distrust between nations, and bring together countries that have marked differences, he said.
There are lessons from this history for all nations including of course Sri Lanka, which is in the process of ending a conflict that has lasted over three decades and had a debilitating effect on this country and the lives of people.
When this internal conflict will be brought to an end, very soon, the people of Sri Lanka will be able to plan their development without having to factor in the conflict as one of the deciding variables.
`It is important to note that Sri Lanka`s relations with the European Union have always been excellent as we both share democratic political values,` he said.