By Charumini de Silva
An initiative to resolve exporters’ issues, the Exporters’ Forum, had mixed results this year as it wrapped up its 10th and final session yesterday, providing a space for private sector participation to formulate policy revamps and better coordination between Government institutions.
Seventeen issues were tabled at the 10th Exporters’ Forum organised by the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade in collaboration with the Export Development Board (EDB).
The session provided a platform for the exporters representing a cross-section of industries to interact with relevant Government institutions and seek responses to their queries.
Speaking to the Daily FT EDB Director General Jeevani Siriwardena said a total of over 125 issues submitted by the exporters were taken up in 2016 for discussion at the Exporters’ Forum where over 50 were resolved within the forum, while a considerable number of issues were resolved outside the forum.
She said the key objectives of these meetings were to identify and address procedural and regulatory issues in accelerating and encouraging exports in the country.
The key concerns exporters brought to light were appeals to coordinate with Government institutions especially on certain outdated test methods for meat exports, tax on export income generation via off-shore business, amendments in Acts, time consuming registration processes, competitive air freight rates, land, tax exemptions, approvals and the streamlining of processes.
The exporters directed many queries to the Health Ministry, Ministry of Finance, Ceylon Fisheries Cooperation, Inland Revenue Department, SriLankan Airlines, Ministry of Plantation Industries, Rubber Development Department, Sri Lanka Customs, Department of Agriculture, Sri Lanka Tea Board, Ministry of International Trade and Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).
State Minister of International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe said the forum was a sign of the Government’s continuous efforts to help the committed Sri Lankan exporters.
“We are planning to revive our exports manufacturing. Our aim is to make the exporters as comfortable as possible, provide you with services, take away the red tape and for us to help us as much as possible to make Sri Lanka the manufacturing hub of the Indian Ocean,” he added.
Senasinghe called on Government institutions to be more proactive in resolving the issues faced by the exporters to cater to increasing global demand and focus on current issues shaping business competitiveness, new markets and trade challenges.