For Oral Answer on : 27/04/2023
Question Number(s): 7 Question Reference(s): 19764/23
Department: Foreign Affairs
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the situation in Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Sri Lanka is facing a severe economic crisis as a result of high national debt and the collapse of tourism during the COVID pandemic, leading it to suspend foreign debt payments in April 2022. In this context, I welcome the specific financing assurances that Sri Lanka recently obtained from bilateral creditors. While Ireland holds no bilateral sovereign debt, we are a member of the Paris Club and we encourage efforts to ensure debt sustainability for countries like Sri Lanka. Ireland is also a member of the Asian Development Bank and supports the Bank’s ongoing assistance to Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka benefits from preferential trading arrangements with the EU: GSP+ arrangements mean lower tariffs for its exports. I welcome the efforts Sri Lanka has made to comply with the requirements for GSP+ status; ratifying 27 conventions on labour standards, environmental protection, good governance and human rights.
In terms of human rights, Ireland engaged with Sri Lanka this year during its Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council (February 2023). I underlined the need for inclusive national dialogue and an immediate moratorium on the use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Ireland will continue to promote human rights in Sri Lanka, through this mechanism.
The Embassy of Ireland in India, which is accredited to Sri Lanka, actively monitors the situation in Sri Lanka, in close consultation with the EU Delegation in Colombo. Ireland’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka visited the country in recent weeks (February 2023). During this visit, he exchanged views with the President of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka’s Minister for Tourism, numerous senior officials and civil society. Ireland will continue to engage with the Sri Lankan Government and people, as the country seeks to emerge from the current crisis.