Export sector needs to be fast tracked | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Export sector needs to be fast tracked

The export sector needs to fast-track a program to gain lost ground in the global market, National Chamber of Exports (NCE) President Ramal Jasinghe said.

“The past 50 days brought a slowdown in export growth. The country reached US $ 15 billion mark at the end of October. The target for 2018 is $ 17 billion. The sector may fall short of the set target for the year,” he said.

“This is the time we have to play a major role in accelerating our exports and ensure that the export structure will not collapse due to the uncertain situation in the country. The threats of withdrawal of the GSP+ facility is a worrisome proposition as we export 70 percent of the total volume to the USA and the European Union.

There is a slight drop in the exports to the USA and an increase to the European market in October,” Jasinghe said.

“Exports such as tea and apparels are a concern as there was a strike in the plantation sector. The garment sector will reach US $ 5 billion, a shortfall of $ 500 million of this year’s target. We could attribute the shortfall to the diminishing purchasing power of the USA consumers. However, this was compensated by the steady flow of exports to the European Union,” he said.

“Changes in the global market and countries, such as Cambodia, Bangladesh and Vietnam are growing much faster than those of Sri Lanka in terms of apparel exports to the European Union.

The country needs an opening for new things. We should reduce the cost of production and overcome skilled labour challenges in the process.”

NCE President Jasinghe said, “The past 50 days witnessed a drop in growth in the service and manufacturing sectors. According to the reports, the slowdown in the economy will force the GDP growth to be down by two percent by the year end than the growth predicted. We need to stabilise the rupee.”

“We should look in to import substitution in terms of value addition as 43 percent of inputs are imported. The exporters are vulnerable to the depreciation of the rupee. We are looking forward to a stable government and speedy implementation of the National Export Strategy (NES) which will ensure stable and continuous growth in exports,” he said. “We need to review our export strategy in the backdrop of the emerging countries overtaking us in the same markets we are competing with,” Jasinghe said.

The NCE has partnered with the Sri Lanka Institute of Nano Technology (SLINTECH) to engage its members to carry out research and development activities to improve value addition in export products and services, he said.