Six-months progress on NES, excellent - EDB chief | Sunday Observer

Six-months progress on NES, excellent - EDB chief

The progress of the National Export Strategy (NES) during the first six months has been excellent with the IT/BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) sector and many other key sectors making the best use of it, enabling the country to record its highest ever export turnover in 2018, said Export Development Board (EDB) Chairperson Indira Malwatte at the 17th Exporter Forum at the EDB auditorium last week.

Sri Lanka’s export income may exceed US$ 17 billion in 2018, and if it does, it will be a 27 percent increase over the past three years’ average.

However, according to EDB’s export income for 2018, as of last week, stood at US$ 16.2 billion without the US$ 550 million that is expected from the Customs. “We will know whether the income from the Customs will be added to the 2018 or 2019 figures shortly,” Malwatte said.

The EDB, the apex body driving exports of the country has set an ambitious target of US$ 20 billion for this year which sector experts said could be achieved provided the NES is fully implemented, with policy stability and consistency.

“The market access program launched by the EDB will come handy for the export sector which needs to penetrate new markets in the region and other parts of the globe,” Malwatte said.

Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, Malik Samarawickrema said the export turnover recorded last year was the highest so far in the country’s history, ...

was achieved despite unfavourable global conditions and stiff competition from competing markets.

“Our aim is to ensure exporters have the right policies to expand exports and achieve the targets set for the years ahead. The exporter forum is an ideal platform for exporters to raise issues and solve them expeditiously.

However according to exporters despite assurances given by the authorities to look into issues the problems of exporters continued to persist over a long period, stifling the smooth operation of companies. According to the minister the government assures its fullest support to exporters, enabling them to focus on expanding markets and bring in much needed foreign exchange.

“The stakeholders of the NES are working on the National strategy which will show results soon,” the Minister said while adding that the government will take a closer look at the progress report of the NES and make recommendations as to how best the strategy could be used to boost exports.

A meeting between the Minister Development Strategies and International Trade and the Minister of Ports and Shipping was scheduled to be held last week to improve logistics for the sector.

Further the minister said the ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka loan scheme’ is another move to help expand exports.“There are certain issues that need to be rectified with the Ministry of Finance, which will be done soon,” the Minister said.

He also said that the government is working on setting up Free Trade agreements with India, Thailand and China, which will provide Sri Lanka access to a large market in the region.

“We need to go for FTAs clearing out issues. No country has excelled in trade without FTAs. We will set up a committee which will study all aspects of the FTA with Singapore and rectify them by April. There is no specific issue raised by those objecting to the FTA with Singapore. If there are issues we could address them,” the Minister said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the exporter forum, the Minister said the target for foreign direct investments this year is US$ 3 billion and added that investments from Singapore for two steel plants in Trincomalee and the cement plant at Hambantota (which will be commissioned soon) will bring a sizeable investment to the country.

“We will hold meetings with German businessmen and conduct road shows to attract investments,” the minister said.