Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister talks export diversification success on TV

Saturday, 7 June 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Youth to drive our diversification through ICT’: Perera, Ind&Com Deputy
  • Seven-fold exports diversification since 1980: EDB
  • 13 ICT exports at $ 719 m
Sri Lanka’s exports diversification strategy is reaping its rewards and Sri Lanka is mulling an unlikely economic component to diversify its exports basket. “Youth are an important aspect when it comes to our exports strategy. They would contribute to our export diversification through increased ICT and high tech exports,” said a keen Lakshman Vasantha Perera (Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce) on 4 June. Deputy Minister Perera was addressing an hour long TV program which exclusively focused on Sri Lanka’s exports sector development and was aired live for almost an hour on ITN Channel on the morning of 4 June. Joining Deputy Minister Perera to explain Lanka’s exports was Anura Siriwardena (Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce). Analysis by EDB showed no less than a seven-fold diversification of Sri Lanka’s exports basket since 1980. The total export products basket which stood at 485 in 1980 has grown to 3527 products by 2013. The result is that export revenues piggybacking the steady diversification 1980 export revenue of mere $1 billion has soared by eleven-fold to $ 11 billion in 2013. Meanwhile, youth too increasingly joined the labour force-youth unemployment (age 20-29) which stood at 22% in 1980 declined to 15.4% in 2009 and fell further to 11.3% by 2012. 9.5% of Lanka youth (aged 19-24) are considered as ‘Digital Natives’, as identified in 2013. In 2013, merchandise exports claimed 48% of total exports; industrial exports claimed 35% and ICT/BPO/Computer exports at $ 719 million, a 3% share of the total. “Youth are an important aspect when it comes to our export strategy. We have begun to promote ICT at school levels. As a result of the recent launch of 250 school ICT program and many other similar initiatives, in the next five years we are targeting to input a bigger group of IT literate youth to our workforce. They would contribute to our export diversification through increased ICT and high tech exports,” revealed Deputy Minister Perera. “Sri Lanka’s economy did not crash despite the global recession thanks to the Mahinda Chinthana. I believe that this to be the biggest contribution of Mahinda Chinthana vision to Sri Lanka. During the global recession we did not go anywhere outside with a begging bowl. This trend of thinking was due to the confidence that people placed in the country’s leadership. “As a result, this leadership ended the war and launched the development efforts especially after 2009.  We really want to move forward with these new initiatives for several factors-that the confidence placed by international community on us, the continuous purchase of our products by international buyers and the strong mechanism of exports, the initiatives in place to link village produce to international markets and then bringing these revenues back to the villages,” he added.