First national packaging bonanza for Sri Lanka SMEs

Saturday, 15 September 2018 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Deputy High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka Dr. Shilpak Ambule (second from right) and Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen (centre) at the launch event of Lankapak 2018 on 14 September at BMICH Colombo


  • Rs. 10 m+ initiatives to boost SME packaging, competitiveness
  • ‘Packaging is cross-cutting for many industries’ – Rishad
  • Lankapak 2018 opens with strong Indian participation
  • ‘Indian officials working on SL export test request’ – Deputy Indian HC Dr. Kumble
  • SL – India trade at $ 5 b


The Government is to provide Rs. 10 million in assistance to develop the local packaging industry, including advance training for 150 small and medium enterprises (SME). 

Sri Lankan SMEs, a key driver of the country’s GDP, are to collect a hefty packaging bonanza, the first such initiative by the State. 

The new initiative by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry is to be implemented in two stages and will utilise Rs. 10.3 million. 

Accordingly, in the first stage, 100 SME’s will be given training and equipped in packaging at a cost of Rs. 6.2 million. 

The second stage, planned for 2019, would see Rs. 4.5 million being used to train an addition 50 SMEs in packaging. 

“Like in any other country, Sri Lanka’s packaging industry too is cross-cutting. Printing and packaging are important elements in branding Sri Lanka to the global markets, especially for our SMEs striving for international markets. Realising this, we have launched new initiatives to strengthen packaging for our SMEs recently,” said the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen on 14 September while addressing the launch of Lankapak 2018.

The 20th edition of the International Packaging and Printing Exhibition was partnered and nurtured by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce just as its predecessors. A strong presence of the Indian packaging sector is seen at the event, which will conclude tomorrow. 

A great number of Lankan micro and SME enterprises are active in foods – an estimated 40% of Lankan SMEs are based in the food 

processing sector.

“Though high quality exports packaging is important for competitive international markets, many export items with ‘cover packaging’ and ‘non-recyclable packaging’ are now faced with increasing challenges abroad. Also, the international packaging requirements are impacting our exports. According to the global card firm MASTERCARD, clear packaging instructions and communication can help in effective and improved exports. We have also been seeing more and more innovative packaging solutions that can be re-used. The ‘post-consumer packaging’ is a big challenge we are faced with both in our domestic market as well as export markets. Since the Unity Government of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe promotes environmentally friendly policies, we encourage degradable packaging material in Sri Lanka,” the Minister said. Sri Lankan SMEs power more than half the Sri Lankan economy with 35-40% of total employment. Around 60% of all Lankan enterprises are seen as SMEs.

Deputy Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Dr. Shilpak Ambule, also addressing the event, said that packaging is as important as the product itself. 

“The Indian packaging industry has become the fifth largest packaging industry in the world. Huge investments in food and FMCGs have boosted the packaging sector in India. Sri Lankan industries partnering with Indian industries through outsourcing is an asset to India. Considerable volume of Lankan exports to India are in food products, such as tea. The process of recognition of Sri Lankan (food testing) labs by Indians has been a long-standing demand by Lankan the industry. The Food Safety and Standard Authority India (FSSAI) is currently working on the certification of Lankan labs. We expect further growth in export of food products from Sri Lanka to India.”

In April, a delegation of Indian officials, including FSSAI CEO Pawan Kumar Agarwal, was in Sri Lanka for a stakeholder consultation workshop on Sri Lankan conformity assessment laboratories to test Indian standards and agreed to consider the Sri Lanka Export Development Board’s request to register few such Sri Lankan labs (FSSAI had not registered any labs outside India at the time). In 2017, Sri Lanka’s total trade with India was at $ 5.1 b, increasing by 18% from 2017’s $ 4.3 b. Exports from Sri Lanka to India was at $ 689.5 m while total imports from India to Sri Lanka was at $ 4,496 m. India ranked as the third largest export destination for Sri Lanka in 2017.