‘Export industry thrives on good governance and accountability’ | Sunday Observer

‘Export industry thrives on good governance and accountability’

The success of the export industry cannot take place in a vacuum. It happens in an overall context of good governance, accountability, and democracy.

That is what our government has strived to achieve over the past four years, and we will continue to build on that, Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, Malik Samarawickrama told the 2019 Presidential Export Awards ceremony organised by the Export Development Board (EDB) last week. “Contrary to popular belief, a governance model driven by authoritarianism and impunity won’t propel the private sector.

It may sound good, but it’s actually very damaging to a country’s private sector. It stifles innovation and breeds discrimination.

In the previous regime, there were no entrepreneurs who were supported, only deal makers who made fat commissions.

In an era where international respect matters for economics, we cannot afford to be a pariah state – it hurts our exporters, it hurts our export brands,” he said.

Samarawickrama said the Government remains committed to supporting the growth of exports and fostering an environment for enterprises to be globally competitive.

The government has implemented the ‘Market Access Support Program’ designed to empower entrepreneurs. The scheme was a National Budget Proposal announced in Budget 2018, and it has progressed well.

“To date, we have approved 95 enterprises to be supported and 42 of them have already received the financial grants.

They are from across the country - ranging from Kalutara to Kandy and Polonnaruwa to Puttalam. The grant scheme helps them go into new markets, enhance value addition, conform to international quality and environmental standards, upgrade technology and improve productivity.”

He said, guided by the National Trade Policy, a trade liberalisation effort is also underway, to bring down para-tariffs and tariffs of imported inputs that are so vital for the exporters to be part of global supply chains.

“And for those enterprises that will face short term challenges due to trade liberalisation, we have launched a ‘Trade Adjustment Programme’, as well as set up the Trade and Productivity Commission comprising of respected private sector leaders and trade experts,” he said.

The government has embarked on a range of policy reforms over the last three years to support the transformation of the economy towards more trade, exports, and FDI.. “We will soon bring out the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Strategy to foster a climate for new high-tech products and services to emerge and also for startups to thrive.

These initiatives won’t just benefit current exporters but will benefit emerging and aspiring exporters among our domestic enterprises.”

The EDB’s ‘2000 Exporter’ program is helping to reveal and encourage a new cohort of exporters from around the country, thus ensuring that the benefits of export-led development are felt islandwide.

In 2019, 29 programs were completed benefitting 1,836 regional entrepreneurs. So far, this program has created 60 direct exporters and 75 indirect exporters with $12.9 Million in new export earnings generated. This is complemented by the unique ‘One Village One Product’ program that will ensure inclusive export development and ensure greater participation of women in exports, he added.