State Minister of International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe (second from left) joined by EDB Chairperson Indira Malwatte (third from left) and other top EDB officials speaks at the 8th Exporters Forum on 29 February
The proposed Economic and Technical Cooperative Agreement (ETCA) with India needs to be viewed beyond the vilifying exaggerations made against it for quick political mileage and contrary to the general perception, ETCA is not the umbrella agreement that decimates almost all services and professions in Sri Lanka, said State Minister of International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe on Monday.
Senasinghe was delivering the concluding remarks of the eighth Exporters Forum by Sri Lanka’s apex exports facilitator EDB on 29 February. The forum, presided over by Senasinghe, is a multi-stakeholder platform conducted by Sri Lanka’s apex exports facilitator EDB to speedily resolve issues faced by exporters.
“ETCA is being portrayed as an agreement that would swallow professions and services of Sri Lanka. In fact, the services it covers are highly specialised and niche in nature – under-sea welding of ships and vessels, for example,” said Senasinghe. “This Forum is a sign of our continuous efforts to help the committed Sri Lankan exporters.”
A total of 37 firms took part with 55 listed issues for discussion at the eighth Exporters Forum and 50 were resolved. These issues were equally spread between agro and fishery as well as industry and service sectors.
With regard to the 29 February forum, three issues forwarded by exporters had already been solved even before the Forum opened. Another novel feature was that trade agreements related issues were up for the first time in addition to the usual sector related and inland-revenue related issues.
At the forum, Honorary Consul for Belgium in Sri Lanka and a founder member of Building a Future Foundation (BAFF) Pierre Pringiers voiced his constructive proposals to develop the Sri Lankan boat exports, especially the leisure and luxury boats.
“Since some of the boats produced are sold to the Lankan tourism industry, they need to be considered as an export and should be given certain concessions. This will greatly help this promising export sector,” Pringiers said.
At the previous forum concluded last November, 72 issues were taken up and 47 were resolved. Several policy-related issues of the seventh Forum are now being attended to by the EDB. EDB officials said that there had been significant progress in VAT and quartz related issues that were raised at the earlier forum.