SL to capitalise on outward-looking trade policies, says Malik | Sunday Observer

SL to capitalise on outward-looking trade policies, says Malik

Sri Lanka has an ambitious plan to increase exports 177 percent by 2025, from the 2015 figure to reach US $ 37.1 billion.

The country is set to capitalise on outward looking policies to capture the global market, Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrema said at the Export Development Board (EDB) media networking session in Colombo last week.

“The National Export Strategy (NES) has set out a clear agenda for action, and it is now being implemented with the support of line Ministries. We have to make up for lost time during the political crisis and move forward quickly. I thank the private sector Chambers – the NCE and others – for their unstinted support to the NES,” he said.

“Many new initiatives have been taken and many more are planned for the year ahead. The past year was a landmark year for our export sector. We launched the five-year ‘National Export Strategy’ following extensive analysis and consultations with the industry.

“The ‘Market Access Support Scheme’ and the ‘2000 Exporter Program’ launched in 2018, are important initiatives to create and support the next generation of entrepreneurs and exporters. We are encouraging more people to ‘Be An Export Champion’. These will see real impact on the ground,” the Minister said.

“We already have Cabinet approval for another initiative – the ‘Enterprise Innovation Scheme’ – which will get underway soon. This is part of the ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship Strategy 2018-2022’ that was also approved last year, and the EDB has been a lead partner in that initiative,” he said.

“These transformational initiatives will change the export landscape of this country. We have not had this kind of systematic and well thought out set of initiatives to support our Sri Lankan entrepreneurs for a long time.

“These initiatives don’t put concrete on the ground and don’t look like flashy projects – but rather are the real nuts and bolts of what it takes to create sustainable high-income earnings jobs in the export sector.

“All countries that have prospered in the world today have done so by being oriented outward – that is, taking what they are good at, and trading with the world.

“Sri Lankan companies are good at many things, and there is global demand for our products – from primary products to sophisticated parts and components, and increasingly, our own high-end brands. Our government has always recognised this, and is committed to supporting them.

“I congratulate our exporters for their continued achievements in the global market. You are navigating difficult global trading conditions, but despite these headwinds you are standing strong and growing sustainably. We need to focus on diversifying our product basket and we need to enter new markets.

“This is the year for accelerated delivery, and we will be focussing very strongly on that. I will be holding regular meetings along with my team at the Ministry, to be appraised of the progress of key program of the EDB, and closely monitoring the targets.

“Our target for 2018 was 17.4 billion US Dollars – that is merchandise and services exports. I think we will end up with around 17 billion US Dollars, and if not for the political crisis we would have ended the year higher.

“Still, this performance is noteworthy considering our exports were at just 13.4 billion In 2015 and has grown 27% since. The target for this year – 2019 – is 20 billion US Dollars in merchandise and Services exports, and we are confident that this can be achieved,” he said.

Vice Chairman, Exporters Association of Sri Lanka, Chrisso de Mel said, Sri Lanka is second to none when it comes to competition.

We need to continuously improve the quality of export products and services to be competitive globally.

It is necessary to believe in ourselves, have the commitment and also walk the talk to achieve desired results.

Export figures are the highest to be achieved so far and the contribution from the IT sector needs to be enhanced for better performance. Seven percent of the export earnings come from the IT sector and there is much scope in this industry, he said.