National Export Strategy will help achieve $ 20b target says NCE chief | Sunday Observer

National Export Strategy will help achieve $ 20b target says NCE chief

Ramal Jasinghe
Ramal Jasinghe

The country’s export sector which plans to achieve US$ 20 billion by 2020 is set to receive a fresh boost through the National Export Strategy (NES) which is due to be launched shortly. However, boosting quality and competitiveness are key factors to grab a larger market share of the global market and stay in the game.

National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) President Ramal Jasinghe who was a member of the core committee in the formulation of the NES said in an interview with the Business Observer that the NES hopes to drive quality and competitiveness by having a business enabling, predictable and transparent policy and a regulatory frame work that supports exports.

He said the NES is expected to be launched during the first quarter this year.

Excerpts of the interview:

Q: What is the current status of the National Export Strategy?

A: The NES has been designed to achieve a prioritized five-year rapid action oriented frame work to achieve desired export targets. According to the information provided to stake holders at the last Consultative Committee Meeting, the NES was supposed to be validated before the presentation of the last budget.

However, a copy of the validated document has not been provided. The correct position could be ascertained from the Ministry of Strategy Development and International Trade and from the Export Development Board which are the Institutions spearheading the NES.

Q: How does the NES hopes to diversify the product base and tap new export markets?

A: The NES was expected to identify and prioritize a number of carefully selected key priority export sectors based on a quantitative and qualitative analysis of Sri Lanka’s export competitiveness.

The selected priority sectors will contribute to a renewed cycle of accelerated export development. The NES focuses on diversification of products and markets especially through support extended to identified focus sectors such as Information Communication Technology (ICT), Processed Foods and Beverages, Spice concentrates, Boat Building, Electronic, Electrical and Machinery and wellness Tourism

All other export sectors including the mature sectors will benefit from the strengthening of Trade Support Functions envisaged in the NES.

Q: How does the NES plans to improve quality, quantity and competitiveness of our export products in the global market.

A: The NES hopes to achieve these objectives by having a business enabling, predictable, and transparent policy as well as a regulatory frame work that supports exports, driving export diversification through innovation and the strengthening of emerging export sectors, strengthening market entry and compliance capacities of Sri Lankan exporters, becoming an efficient trade and logistics hub to facilitate exports, improving the National Quality Infrastructure (a comprehensive National Quality Infrastructure improvement document has been prepared by the Sri Lanka Standards Institute) and Infrastructure development on R & D and inclusion of the State scientific institutions and the Universities to support the Private/Public partnership in nurturing product innovation.

Q: What is the role of the National Chamber of Exporters which is the main export chamber that supports the sector to achieve USD 20 billion by 2020.

A: The NCE does not provide direct material assistance to exporters to facilitate exports. However, the chamber provides certain services to exporters to complement the services by State institutions. They are:

* Professional training in International Trade Management to assist Exporters and Entrepreneurs, and provide professional qualifications in the field of exports, since a shortage skills at the Management Level is a constraint to accelerate exports. Also online training is provided to facilitate ‘Cross Border Trade Transactions’ especially of SMEs.

* Provides inputs to the Ministry of Strategy Development and International Trade in consultation with member exporters in regard to negotiations of Free Trade Agreements with large Trade Partners such as India and China and also the proposed FTA with Singapore to enable Sri Lankan Exporters to overcome Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) to enter such markets. Such measures also include speedy implementation of Anti-Dumping Laws and Competition Laws that are proposed to protect Sri Lankan Enterprises from unfair competition.

* Training on export related subjects to Sri Lankan Exporters. For example making aware the impact of fiscal and taxation proposals in the Inland Revenue Act which impacts on exports and how best to make use of them.

* Facilitation of ‘Ease of Doing Business’ of Sri Lankan exporters by representing operational issues faced by them with relevant State Authorities for resolution.

* Making budget proposals to drive policy direction related to the exports sector and by providing assistance and incentives to exporters. For instance proposals related to financing of specially SME exporters to accelerate exports through the establishment of an EXIM Bank or an alternative Export Development Bank, as well as assistance for commercial agriculture including an Insurance scheme had been included in the Budget for 2018.

Q: How does the NES plans to boost the market share in the West by making use of the GSP Plus facility and also cope with the withdrawal of the US GSP scheme.

A: Measures to make use of the GSP facilities and improve market share has no direct link with the NES.

In the case of the GSP Plus facility opportunities have arisen to improve exports of the garments and fisheries sectors which are the main exports to the EU by regaining lost market share.

Measures to regain lost market share is made available by the relevant State Institutions such as the EDB through assistance to participate in trade promotion activities such as Trade Fairs. Private sector Chambers such the NCE also provides such services to exporters.

The issue related to the withdrawal of the US GSP is a current issue. Further since only a limited number of products exported by Sri Lanka to the US Market is eligible for concession under the US GSP facility this withdrawal has minimal impact.

For a example only a few items under the Garment sector which is the main exports to the US Market has been eligible for concessions under this facility.