The Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) has been conducting the Exporters’ Forum since its inception from the late ’70s. The EDB has identified the need of a common platform to discuss and resolve the issues faced by the exporter community in Sri Lanka in order to facilitate exporters to overcome constraints arising from policy and operational issues created by various institutes that regulate, operate, and facilitate cross border trade.
The EDB as the nation’s prime institute to facilitate export development created this mechanism to enable exporters to submit their issues to the highest levels of state institutions that cannot be reached easily by a trader. The unique feature of the Exporters’ Forum is the participation of the private sector and the public sector to resolve issues, with the political leadership represented by the relevant minister together with direct ministry-level interventions providing solutions to address those issues.
Operational issues faced by the exporters generally take less time to resolve, while policy-related issues usually take time as changing government policies has to go through a standard process. The issues of exporters can be resolved more expeditiously with the assistance of the other relevant agencies. The Exporters’ Forum is conducted once every two months and 10-15 issues are taken up for discussion during the forum.
Most of the problems faced by exporters cannot be solved by one institution alone and requires a joint effort of several institutions. During the forum, exporters are able to find solutions to their trade-related issues from public sector institutions.
The forum runs with full attendance from the private sector, exporters, chambers, associations and senior officials of the ministries and departments. The general consensus among the exporter community is that the forum results in a productive exchange of ideas between the private sector and the policy makers of the government which is immensely useful in addressing trade obstacles.
Exporters’ Forums so far in the year 2019, have taken up 40 issues and 14 of them have been resolved completely while the rest is under the process of being resolved, and most of them are policy-related issues. The effectiveness of the Exporters’ Forum has been acknowledged by the exporters who were able to get their issues resolved.
“As an exporter, we greatly appreciate the EDB’s provision of an open platform to engage with authorities in order to understand and address our problems. The swift resolution of these issues by the EDB is inspiring and admirable” – (Basilur Tea Export Ltd. – 12.03.2019).
“First of all, we must thank you and your team at the EDB in facilitating the exporters by addressing their issues through a very effective forum in an organised way” – (Noritake Lanka Porcelain Ltd. – 02.08.2018)
“On behalf of the board of directors and the management of the company, we take this opportunity to thank your esteemed organisation for the assistance provided to us to carry out our operations without any interruptions” – (Anverally & Sons Ltd. – 29.03.2019)
“I take this opportunity to thank you, for all the assistance rendered by the EDB for us to obtain the Environmental Protection Licence” – (Sooriya Resort & Spa – 31.05.2019)
The most recent Exporters’ Forum (19th) was held on 11 June 2019, which took 11 issues up for discussion. The EDB is in the pursuit of taking efforts to provide speedy solutions for those issues. The next Exporters’ Forum will be held in the fourth week of August 2019. The EDB invites exporters and other enterprises to submit their export-related issues to the EDB to be taken up for discussion at the forum. Exporters can submit their issues by post to Director, Trade Facilitation and Trade Information Division, EDB/NDB Towers, No. 42, Nawam Mawatha, Colombo 2 and by email to (firstname.lastname@example.org) or through the dedicated online platform namely, Online Alert for Trade Obstacles (OATO http://www.forum.edb.gov.lk/).