‘Govt must build confidence among importers of Lankan goods’ | Sunday Observer

‘Govt must build confidence among importers of Lankan goods’

The representatives of the business community pledge for unity in Sri Lanka.
The representatives of the business community pledge for unity in Sri Lanka.

Exports during the third and fourth quarters will be severely hampered as importers have cancelled trips to Sri Lanka due to the travel bans and advisories and also the absence of travel insurance following the recent developments in the country, exporters lamented on the sidelines of the ‘Pledge for Unity’ meeting of the business community at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel last week.

Exporters represented by their Chambers said exports during the next two quarters will be in a precarious state due to the reluctance of importers to visit Sri Lanka to make orders as the security situation in the country does not vouch the safety of foreigners to the country.

“Many buyers have cancelled their visits to Sri Lanka and have opted for other destinations to source their products,” an exporter said.

National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) Chairperson Ramya Weerakoon said that exports so far have been on a smooth path but the issue will be in the third and fourth quarters as there will be a sharp decline in orders.

 “There is no issue with the quality and standards of our products. The problem is with the security situation in the country which conveys negative sentiments to buyer about the country,” she said.

According to exporters, the apparel sector, a key contributor to the export earnings of the country with an annual export income of around US$ 5 billion could be affected under the current scenario.

However, when asked about whether exporters are pleased with the steps taken to bring stability to the country, Weerakoon said exporters are not at all happy with the way the government is handling the situation to restore normalcy, which is essential to build confidence among buyers.

“Inconsistency and ad hoc policies will only aggravate the situation and plunge the entire business sector further into economic catastrophe. Investors will only shy away under such a scenario which is not conducive for long term investments in any sector. We earnestly appeal to the government to speed up measures with clear and consistent policies to rebuild confidence and revive the economy,” Weerakoon said.

Exporters also called upon the authorities to launch promotional campaigns through the foreign missions to convince major business establishments abroad that Sri Lanka is safe for trade and investments.

Ceylon Chamber of Commerce CEO Dhara Wijayatilake said the chamber discussed with the private sector on taking a pledge for unity and working lasting peace in the country.

Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce Chathuri Ranasinghe called upon the business community which has been a strong force, to build peace and unity in the country, to play a leading role to reunite the country again.National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka President Asela de Livera said the chamber is fully committed to work toward building peace and unity in Sri Lanka through its members.

“We need to treat all communities with love and respect and let this change begin with us,” he said.

Representatives of the private sector took a ‘Pledge for Unity’ as it was felt much has to be done to reunite a temporarily fragmented country.

The pledge was taken in all three languages by over 300 corporates to work towards building a united Sri Lanka in which people can live and work together in unity, peace and harmony, irrespective of differences in religion and ethnicity; to acknowledge the diversity within us and treat each other with respect at work and in the community.