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Ceylon Chamber of Commerce’s key recommendations on trade

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Tuesday, 15 October 2019 00:00

Sri Lanka Economic Acceleration Framework 2020-25

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce recently launched a working draft of ‘Sri Lanka Economic Acceleration Framework 2020-25’ towards building a $ 135 billion economy by 2025. Today we feature the Trade Working Group proposals from the document


Members of the working group: 

Husein Esufally Chairman, Hemas Holdings PLC

Subhashini Abeysinghe, Research Director, Verité Research

Sheamalee Wickramasinghe, Managing Director, Ceylon Biscuits Ltd.

Tuli Cooray, Secretary General, Joint Apparel Association Forum

Dr. Janaka Wijayasiri, Research Fellow, The Institute of Policy Studies 

Dinesh de Silva, Head of Shipping, Unilever Sri Lanka Ltd.

Nishan Nanayakkara, Chairman, The Import Section of Ceylon Chamber/General Manager, Ceylon Biscuits Ltd.

Prabash Subasinghe, Managing Director, Global Rubber Industries and Global Seafood

Saiffudin Jafferjee, Managing Director, Lanka Garment Manufacturing Co Ltd.

Nadie Kahatapitiya Algama, Director Marketing & Strategy, KIK Lanka Ltd.

Anura Warnakulasooriya, Director, Midaya Ceramic Company (Pvt) Ltd.

Suresh Ellawala, Director, Ellawala Horticulture Ltd.

Jagath Fernando, Managing Director, Jagro Ltd.  

Justin Seneviratne, Director, Lalan Rubbers Ltd.

Ananda Pathirage, Director, Hayleys Agriculture Holding Ltd.

Ganesh Deivanayagam, Chairman, Eswaran Brothers Exports Ltd.

Ashan Refai, Managing Director, ZAM Gems Ltd.

Interventions and implementations

a) Formulation of a national policy directive to address structural issues affecting trade

  • Rational allocation of Government departments and ministries to improve coordination, coherence, and integration in trade policy related decision making process.

  • Establishment of a rational tariff structure that promotes macroeconomic growth objectives of the economy. Rationalisation of tariffs is a prerequisite for liberalisation of tariffs. In the rationalisation process, both import duties (both import duty and para-tariffs) and export levies need to be considered. 

  • Establishment of the proposed Trade and Productivity Commission through a Parliamentary Act with a clear mandate to make independent and transparent decisions on tariff rationalisation based on stakeholder consultations and scientific research.

  • Fixing para tariffs that undermines the competitiveness measures in order for local industries to leverage on liberalisation efforts in line with commitments under the multilateral trade regime.

  • Develop and implement product standards (both quality and technical) to safeguard legitimate interests and concerns of both the consumer and the producer.


b) Expansion of Sri Lanka’s trade interests through signing of strategic trade agreements [Formulation of a ‘Trade Agreement’ (TA) strategy based on the fundamentals of ‘maximising gains and minimising negative implications’].

  • Formulation of a TA strategy that clear documents; the process that needs to be followed in arriving at a decision for negotiation and conclusion of the TAs. 

  • Trade agreements that Sri Lanka becomes party to must be anchored to the country’s national and strategic interests, signed after timely, transparent and broad-based domestic consultations with relevant stakeholder groups.

  • Conducting feasibility studies that informs the potential economic impact of the agreements/unilateral liberalisations under consideration. 

  • Decision to entering into trade agreements should not be based on narrow considerations or vested interests, but must be based on good research and evidence taking a holistic view of the overall benefits to the country. It should be based on the outcome of a sound feasibility study which also defines the scope of the agreement (how comprehensive/broad the agreement should be).

  • Sustaining acquired skills and building further technical capacity of the negotiating team and the supporting team of researches/technocrats. 

  • The capacity of the trade agreement negotiating team must be strengthened by institutionalising the process. It is important to ensure sustainability and the continuity of the skills acquired and experience gained. This will build competency of the team on negotiating skills while allowing specialised skills to be brought in to the negotiating team and also to build the confidence amongst the stakeholders on the process followed. The institutionalisation of the trade negotiation team will also ensure that more structured consultations with related stakeholders will provide strategic input for ongoing negotiations. 

  • Scientific approach to formulation of offensive/defensive schedules for goods and services based on statistical analysis, empirical research and structured stakeholder consultations. 

  • Building a database with offensive and defensive interests and skill gaps to supports service negotiations

  • Entering into Mutual Recognition Agreements to promote market access gained through tariff liberalisation.

  • Review/renegotiate existing investment and tax treaties and negotiate new treaties where necessary to improves the investment competitiveness of Sri Lanka


c) Accelerating reforms to resolve domestic barriers to trade and boost competitiveness

  • Expediting the implementation of trade facilitation measures in a transparent manner with a Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA)+ approach. Speedy implementation of the digital National Single Window is the priority action point under Category C TFA measures.

  • Speed up accession to the Madrid Protocol

  • Setting up accredited laboratories for certification of export products (MRAs can be used as a vehicle to facilitate market entry of products facilitated by accredited laboratories).


d) Continuity of the implementation of the National Export Strategy (NES)

  • NES lays out a detailed roadmap for faster export growth with a focus on six focus sectors and three trade support functions for all exports goods and services. 

  • The plan of actions that are developed through wide stakeholder consultations need to be given a focused implementation drive in the next five years with flexibility and adaptability to timely needs.


Other sector specific interventions to spur export growth that are not covered by the National Export Strategy 

Gem and jewellery 

  • Establishment of a world class testing and certification centre for the gem and jewellery industry as a PPP initiative. 

  • Development of Sri Lanka as a world class trading hub for gem and jewellery. 



  • Implementation of the rubber master plan. 


  • Development of Sri Lanka as a reprocessing hub for fisheries exports. Sri Lanka needs to organise as a bigger reprocessing arm and, there should be policies in bringing vessels, proper rules for reprocessing facilitating investment, etc. 

  • Provide land and promote investment to promote aqua production such as shrimps and prawns. 


Fruits and Vegetables

  • Permit import of raw material to facilitate reprocessing for exports. 

  • Installing cold storage facilities at airports capable of storing food exports, while preserving their quality standards. 

  • Creation of a knowledge and information platform to share information with regard to growing of crop such as what to grow, how to grow (inter-cropping, etc.) and when to grow certain crops to optimise yield and price. 



  • Complete automation of Colombo Tea Auction. 

  • Automation of the supply chain of the tea industry from plucking to selling will provide real time market information while enhancing process efficiency, traceability, eliminate malpractices, better price discovery and market information for the stakeholders. 

  • Establish an accredited laboratory for chemical testing in Sri Lanka to improve the quality of infrastructure and promote export standards. 

  • The country has a sizeable outflow of foreign exchange presently to obtain these services from labs overseas for testing with cost that ranges from $ 150-200 per sample. 

  • Proper implementation of Global Ceylon Tea campaign in consultation with the tea industry stakeholders. 

  • Protect the Ceylon Tea brand name/image through registration of Ceylon Tea Geographical Indication (GI) in all important out-markets. 

  • Make GMP mandatory for all tea factories. Introduce heavy penalties for the manufacturers of adulterated teas. 

  • Facilitate research and development for generic promotion of tea and tea-based products, such as the potential of tea as a food item, ability to be used in nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries, global flavour on and fragrance industry.

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