FDIs, key to reach middle income stage, says Malik | Sunday Observer

FDIs, key to reach middle income stage, says Malik

3 March, 2019

The Government with the Export Development Board (EDB) is exploring the possibility of organising export promotion fora and exhibitions locally and internationally similar to ‘Expo 2020 Dubai’ exhibition to be held in the UAE in October, Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama told the organisers of the Sri Lankan pavilion at the EDB last week.

“Exports and Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) are the only way to move up from a low income country to a middle income country. All foreign earnings should come from exports and FDIs,” the minister said.

The EDB aims at recording US$ 20 billion in export income this year and US$ 23 billion by 2020. Income from merchandise and services exports reached US$ 17 billion last year. However, export income last year fell short of the US$ 17.4 billion target set for the year.

“We need events to showcase the country’s potential for trade and investments and back the government’s efforts to promote exports and foreign direct investments. It is only through exports and FDIs, we can pay off our debts,” the minister said, adding that the World Expo will be an ideal opportunity to attract high profile investors to Sri Lanka.

The government aims at achieving US$ 3 billion FDIs this year. The FDI target for 2018 was US$ 2.5 billion and US$ 5 billion in 2020. The country’s FDIs increased fourfold to US$ 1.9 billion in 2017 over the previous year.

“We hope to see a steady increase in FDIs with major reforms at the ministerial level to improve the country’s Ease of Doing Business ranking,” the minister said, adding that Sri Lanka needs to compare its export volume and value against Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam which have notched higher export revenue figures due to advanced education and the growth in the IT sector. We will produce more graduates in the IT sector which has vast scope for service exports,” he said.

The EDB through the National Export Strategy (NES) launched mid last year, has embarked on an ambitious export promotion program for market and product diversification under the theme ‘An Export Hub driven by innovation and investment’.

The ‘Expo 2020 Dubai’ goes well with the objectives of the NES, and it will help enhance the country’s image and showcase the quality of its products and services to increase the country’s global market share, business and exposure of companies to emerging trends in technology.

The ‘Expo 2020 Dubai’ is expected to attract over 25 million visitors and over 200 participants for the event which will span over six months. The Sri Lankan pavilion which will be in the ‘Opportunity’ district will be under the theme ‘Island of Ingenuity’ to showcase its efforts across the social, economic, technology and cultural spheres.

Through the Creative Youth Program of the Expo Organisers, young professionals in the creative business sector have been given the opportunity to design the Sri Lankan pavilion.

Two student teams of the Department of Integrated Design of the Faculty of Architecture, University of Moratuwa who took part in the design competition under the theme ‘Water’ won awards.

EDB Chairperson Indira Malwatte said the ‘2000 Exporter’ program held across the country since its launch in 2017 has helped create interest among young entrepreneurs who are keen to get into the export market with new products and services.

“We have seen the enthusiasm shown by the youth in villages, who want to make a start and develop their enterprises. We will extend our fullest support to groom them to be leading exporters,” Malwatte said.

The ‘2000 Exporter’ program has been held in the Northern, North Western and Southern provinces since its launch in March 2017 by the EDB.

The program comprises awareness programs for entrepreneurs, technological displays and round table discussions.