‘SL, a regional export hub within seven years’ | Sunday Observer

‘SL, a regional export hub within seven years’

 The National Export Strategy is being worked out in  collaboration with private and public sector stakeholders
The National Export Strategy is being worked out in collaboration with private and public sector stakeholders

Sri Lanka will be a hub for exports in the region within six to seven years with exports doubling from the current rate, State Minister of International Trade, Sujeewa Senasinghe said at a meeting last week at the Media Ministry to apprise the media on the progress of the National Export Strategy (NES).

He said the national export strategy will help to increase the export income to around USD 18 billion by 2020. The NES is being worked out with the collaboration of the private and public sector stakeholders.

“We hope to launch the strategy by December and embark on a solid path to boost exports with new products,” the minister said.

The NES has identified key sectors such as transport, logistics, ICT, boat building, processed food and beverages, electronic and electrical manufacturing, wellness and tourism to drive exports. The export strategy will promote manufacturing for exports.

“We have been far too long depending on services to earn foreign exchange. We need to change gears to manufacturing as some of the regional countries that have made vast strides in electronic and automobile products,” he said.

Referring to Upali Wijewardene who made a valiant effort to manufacture the first Fiat car for the country and considered as a great industrialist in the region, the minister said it would be embarrassing if Sri Lanka cannot manufacture a car and go for new products to position the country in the global market.

He said the apparel sector should aim at increasing its income to USD 12-15 billion in the next five years. Apparel export income is around USD 3.5 billion.

The Minister said plans are afoot to set up more export promotion zones and reform the BOI to drive export oriented foreign direct investments.

The team formulating the NES said it’s high time Sri Lanka focuses on manufacturing electrical and electronic products that will turn a new chapter in the export sector.

“China, Korea, Singapore and Malaysia have build empires in the manufacture of electronic and automobiles. We must take a cue from them and get cracking,” an exporter said.

He said there is no pint in crying over spilt milk. Exports have been dwindling and that should be history.

We need to make a new beginning and forge ahead with a competitive strategy to position our products in the international market. National Chamber of Exporters President Ramal Jasinghe said the private public partnership is the best strategy to drive exports. Both sectors have the expertise to take exports to the next level. The key sectors identified for exports will be the spring board to boost exports.

Export Development Board Chairperson Indira Malwatte said exports have declined for a considerable time.

However there has been a marginal improvement during the past couple of months. The NES is a Euro 8 million project funded by the European Union with technical assistance from the International Trade Centre.