Sri Lanka’s trade success in EU markets is not accidental, says Rishad

Tuesday, 27 March 2012 00:45 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Despite a deepening price competition due to the recession in the coveted EU single market, Sri Lanka has become a dependable supplier to the Eurozone sending $3560.41 Mn exports in 2011. And as Sri Lanka’s announced GDP surpassing Rs 6.5 trillion mark and reporting a 8.3% growth, the Commonwealth hailed its rapid economic growth.

“Our $ 3560Mn export success to EU market in 2011 is not accidental. There are reasons for our resilience in EU market –they are Sri Lanka’s values of corporate responsibility in manufacturing, ethical differentiation of products complying with required international standards, and reliability of Sri Lanka as a supply side location,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen at the inauguration of the top national forum themed ‘EU Trade Policy and the Way Forward for Sri Lanka’ on March 26 in Colombo.

Organised by the Department of Commerce in close collaboration with the Sri Lanka Export Development Board and in coordination with the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, the session, held at the Sri Lanka Export Development Board Auditorium saw participation by experts from such international entities as UNCTAD, Overseas Development Institute of London and the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Speakers and panellists were drawn from international experts in subject areas, as well as from the public and private sectors of Sri Lanka. Among Institutions giving presentations in the session are IPS (Colombo), UNCTAD, the Commonwealth Secretariat, Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, London’s Overseas Development Institute, MAS Intimates and academics from Sri Lankan Universities. Among the topics discussed during the forum are overview and principal WTO Notifications since 2005, Doha Round & prospects for regionalism, Implications for Sri Lanka due to changes to EU’s Trading Agreements and its GSP Regime, harnessing regional trade opportunities and promoting export-led growth and development as the way forward for Sri Lanka.

 “I am pleased to note that in 2011, our GDP surpassed Rs 6.5 trillion mark with a growth of 8.3% announced just this weekend,” Minister Bathiudeen said.

Explaining Sri Lanka’s exports to EU, Minister Bathiudeen said, “What is more important is that our exports to EU are vital not only due to their huge volumes, but also due to the continuous growth trend, despite a climate of Euro recession.”

In 2011, Sri Lanka’s exports to EU stood at $ 3560.41 Mn, taking 35% share of Sri Lanka’s total export earnings for the year. The top EU five recipients receiving our exports were UK, Italy, Germany, Belgium and France.

“The impressive economic growth and rapid export expansion in Sri Lanka are outstanding among the developing countries. This is in stark contrast to neighbouring countries where little trade is conducted within the region than the outside,” said Edwin Laurent (CMG, OBE), Adviser and Head of Section of Int’l Trade and Regional Cooperation Economic Affairs Division, addressing the session.

“It will be positive for Sri Lanka to work with the Commonwealth. We at C’ Wealth Secretariat, focus on issues and challenges that do not receive due recognition or prominence. We seek to bring to the table our familiarity in regional trade arrangements and also facilitate informed policy discourses, such as today’s event. In this regard, regional trade arrangements such as SAFTA are very welcome. But non-tariff barriers have become an impediment to trade within this region and as a result, have offset trade gains considerably.”

Director General of Commerce P.D. Fernando addressing the session said, “The theory of comparative advantage no longer works. And there are many other hidden factors that our exporters have to face often.”