Global Britain: New era in British relations | Sunday Observer

Global Britain: New era in British relations

British High Commissioner Sarah Hulton
British High Commissioner Sarah Hulton

Britain’s exit from the European Union, last week would expand the country’s global avenues and make it a global Britain. High Commissioner, Sarah Hulton explains the impact of Brexit on British-Sri Lanka relations

Q: What does the UK’s exit from the EU mean for Sri Lanka?

The UK is looking ahead with confidence and ambition as a global trading nation and a champion of democratic values, rights and freedoms. We will work closely with all our partners around the world with renewed vigour to promote tolerance, security and justice, and to face shared challenges like climate change and terrorism. We call this ‘Global Britain’. Our partnership with Sri Lanka on all these issues will continue to grow.

The UK will continue to be a free, fair and tolerant society, and an active and responsible country on the world stage. We will continue to champion great causes like girls education, media and religious freedoms, and protections for human rights defenders.

What about the UK’s trade relationship with Sri Lanka?

The UK is an important export market for Sri Lankan manufacturers. UK businesses are also major investors in building the Sri Lankan economy, in modernisation and economic diversification.

That will continue to grow. We want to help Sri Lanka improve the conditions for investors and British businesses who want to operate here by reducing barriers to trade.

The UK continues to champion free trade and to be at the cutting edge of science and innovation.

The UK is the world’s 5th largest economy. We are the No.1 European destination for inward investment and 3rd in the world ‘unicorn’ tech start-ups, companies that reach a $1 billion dollar valuation.

New visa categories will ensure that the world’s best and brightest continue to be attracted to the UK’s world-leading industries, including from Sri Lanka. Of course, four of the top 10 global universities are located in the UK. Twelve per cent of the world’s international students attend UK universities – including hundreds of young Sri Lankans, who now have the ability to stay and work in the UK after their studies for a period of time.

So, will the GSP+ scheme still apply?

Sri Lanka will continue to benefit from the same level of access on its exports to the UK that it currently receives. We want to provide continuity to businesses on both sides.

The GSP+ scheme will remain in place for Sri Lanka’s trade with the UK during the transition period which ends 31 December 2020. The UK has introduced new legislation to provide the same level of access as the current EU trade preference scheme, for those countries who continue to qualify after that period.

The British Foreign Secretary recently made a statement about ambition for COP 26 – What that’s about?

2020 is a critical year for our planet, as climate change is real and is threatening our future. The world has started to move towards renewable energy in order to curb emissions, but we all need to move faster down this path, with the UK continuing to lead by example with its net zero targets written into law.

This year the UK will host the vital UN climate conference – COP 26, where the world will meet to agree to more ambitious action.

This is an opportunity to make a truly global effort. COP 26 will be the biggest summit the UK has ever hosted, bringing together over 30,000 delegates to Glasgow this November.

I am really looking forward to it; there is huge opportunity for the UK and Sri Lanka to work together, given our many shared interests on climate and environmental issues.

Follow the British High Commission on Twitter: @UKinSriLanka for more information on the UK in Sri Lanka