No country could develop by having a ‘closed’ mentality, says Sujeeva | Sunday Observer

No country could develop by having a ‘closed’ mentality, says Sujeeva

The ‘2000 Exporter Development’ program will be carried out in all districts across the country to enable the country to achieve the US$ 20 billion export revenue target by 2020, State Minister of International Trade Sujeeva Senasinghe told the Sunday Observer.

Referring to the Sri Lanka-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, the Minister said Sri Lanka should take a cue from East Asian economies which have made great strides in economic growth focusing on exports.

“Those who try to create a hue and cry about the Singapore FTA must realise that no country could develop by having a ‘closed’ mentality.

The world is progressing at a rapid pace in all spheres and if we do not keep pace with it we will be left out and remain to be a third world country,” the Minister said.

He said the Exporter Development program has been launched in four districts and added that another seven to eight district will be covered before the end of this year.

The exporter development program was held Galle, Jaffna, Kandy and Kurunegala. The program launched by the Ministry of Development Strategy and International Trade and the Export Development Board aims at developing 2,000 entrepreneurs by 2020 to enter the export market which will result in many trickle down benefits to the economy. The program is aimed at training and harnessing potential entrepreneurs in the regions of Sri Lanka. The Minister said that Sri Lanka needs to interact more with the rest of the world, move into manufacture of electronic products and be competitive in the global market if it is to create a vibrant export sector. However, the minister said the country is on course to achieve the export target of US4 17.5 billion this year as we have already notched a 10 percent month on month growth in exports this year.

Exports had been in the declining path for three consecutive years but began recording an upward movement from mid last year. The country recorded a $ 11. 4 billion export income last year this year. Sri Lanka’s exports are primarily backed by textiles and garments accounting for around 40 percent of the total exports. The re-instatement of the GSP Plus facility was a key factor that helped drive exports last year.

However, trade experts have been insisting that the country needs to diversify its export basket and focus on value added exports. Sri Lanka’s exports of goods and services as a percentage of the GDP stood at 21.1 percent in 2016 declining from 39.02 percent in the year 2000. The contribution to the GDP by exports in Sri Lanka is low compared to 79 percent in Vietnam which had a past similar to Sri Lanka.