Introduction of trade adjustment package soon, says Minister Wickramaratne | Sunday Observer

Introduction of trade adjustment package soon, says Minister Wickramaratne

Picture by Chaminda Niroshana
Picture by Chaminda Niroshana

A trade adjustment package will be introduced shortly to fuel the growth and encourage more trade in the country, State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratna said at the premier processing and packaging event for Sri Lanka, ‘Lankapak 2018’ which concluded last week at the BMICH Colombo.

“Building over a long period of time is the way to develop. There will be challenges in this journey. The largest growth area is still in Asia. We have to decide how we have to reach our goals. However, the current global economic situation poses many challenges. The trade war between the USA and China and the embargo on Iran are causing ripples. These are the realities,” he said.

“Like in any other country, Sri Lanka’s packaging industry too is cross-cutting. Printing and packaging are important elements in branding Sri Lanka to the global markets, especially for our SMEs striving for international markets. Realising this, we have launched new initiatives to strengthen packaging for our SMEs in the recent past” the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said.

Though high quality export packaging is important for competitive international markets, many export items with “cover packaging” and “non-recyclable packaging” are now faced with increasing challenges abroad. Also the international packaging requirements are impacting on our exports. According to the global card firm MASTERCARD, clear packaging instructions and communication can help in effective and improved exports. We have also been seeing more and more innovative packaging solutions that can be re-used. The “post-consumer packaging” is a big challenge we are faced with both in our domestic market as well as export markets. We encourage degradable packaging material in Sri Lanka, he said.

The new initiative for SMEs by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce is in two stages and involves Rs 10.3 million and close to 150 SMEs as beneficiaries. In the first stage around 100 SMEs were trained and equipped in packaging at a cost of Rs 6.2 million. In the planned next stage (2019) another 50 SMEs will be strengthened in packaging at a cost of Rs 4.5 million. In addition, yet another project is also being planned by the Ministry to build skills for SMEs especially for promotions and market access.

A great number of Lankan micro and SME enterprises are active in foods and an estimated 40% of Lankan SMEs are based in the food processing sector and around 60% of all Lankan enterprises are seen as SMEs.

Packaging is as important as the product itself. The Indian packaging industry has become the fifth largest packaging industry in the world. Huge investments in food and FMCGs have boosted the packaging sector in India. Sri Lankan industries partnering with Indian industries through outsourcing are an asset to India. A considerable volume of Lankan exports to India are in food products such as tea. The process of recognition of Sri Lankan (food testing) labs by Indians has been a long-standing demand by the Lankan industry, Deputy Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, Dr Shilpak Ambule said.

The Food Safety and Standard Authority India (FSSAI) is currently working on the certification of Lankan labs. We expect the export of food products from Sri Lanka to India to grow even further. In April 2018, a delegation of Indian officials including CEO of FSSAI Pawan Kumar Agarwal, was in Sri Lanka for a stakeholder consultation workshop on Sri Lankan ‘conformity assessment laboratories to test Indian standards and agreed to consider Sri Lanka Export Development Board’s request to register few such Sri Lankan labs (FSSAI has not registered any labs outside India at the time), he said.

In 2017, Sri Lanka’s total trade with India was at US $ 5.1 billion increasing by 18% from 2017’s $4.3 billion. Exports from Sri Lanka to India was at US$ 689.5 million while total imports from India to Sri Lanka was at US$ 4,496 million. India ranked as the 3rd largest export destination for Sri Lanka in 2017.

Lankapak provided diversified choices and one-stop processing and packaging solution for industries including food, beverages, dairy products, cosmetics, pharmacy, health products etc. The three-day event celebrates its 37th anniversary this year and is already shaping up to be the biggest and best show in its history.

The Exhibition was organised by the Sri Lanka Institute of Packaging and supported by professional event partner CDC Events along with Futurex Trade Fair & Events (Pvt) Ltd and the PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry. It was an inter-connected and inter-dependent expo connecting all links in the whole-industry chain from agricultural products, food ingredients, food processing and packaging to nutrition and health products in Sri Lanka. It will attract thousands of buyers both at home and abroad.

The three-day exhibition and congress highlighted the fastest growing markets, lucrative trends and winning tactics that many packaging and print professionals in the region are unaware of. This summit was packed with opportunities for those in the packaging and printing industry.

Lankapak is the most preferred place where the regional industry converges to take stock of demand dynamics and latest industry developments. It is also their chosen platform to share experiences and network with who’s who of the printing and packaging landscape.