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This week, Lloyd’s of London removed Sri Lanka from its blacklist of countries at risk of war. The list made it more expensive to insure companies that do business in the country.
The Sri Lankan government’s been fighting a separatist movement for a quarter century, and its economy has been stagnant for most of that time. The move could open the country’s ports to the U.S. and other markets.
Why was Sri Lanka defined as a risky place to do business?
Charles Haviland, The BBC’s Sri Lankan bureau chief in Colombo, says the violent climate made Sri Lanka a risky place to do business. “There were particularly audacious attacks, not only on the ports of Colombo, Gaul, another port, but also on the airports, the Colombo main airport,” he says. “Both were attacked by a guerilla group that had both its own air force and its own navy. In some cases with severe fatalities.”
The Lloyd’s of London listing went into effect after July 2001, when Lloyd’s placed an extra insurance premium that defined Sri Lanka as an extremely risky place to do business or ship goods into. “Therefore, premiums went right up,” Haviland says, “And the country had a kind of blacklisted status.”
What does it mean to be taken off the blacklist?
Haviland says the Sri Lankan government has been lobbying for this change for some time. “It’ll be much cheaper to ship goods into this country,” he notes, “which is what ex-pats do when they come and move into a place. It’ll also make it much quicker to bring goods in, because I’m told of the two main shopping lanes into the
Colombo, one of them had been completely closed.”
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