EDB keen on developing trade with Poland | Sunday Observer

EDB keen on developing trade with Poland

10 November, 2019
Deputy Minister Nalin Bandara Jayamaha
Deputy Minister Nalin Bandara Jayamaha

The Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) is aggressively looking at the Polish market by interacting with a high powered trade delegation which was in the country last week, to drive the country’s trade, investment and tourism industry.

The delegation was led by Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Poland, Maciej Lang.

To this end, the EDB conducted business fora in Colombo to ascertain the possibility of enhancing relations between the two countries in terms of trade, investment and tourism promotion.

“Poland could use Sri Lanka’s strategic location to boost connectivity to the European Union (EU) and increase trade related activities for the benefit of both countries. Poland is the EU’s number one export market and the advantage of duty exception is enjoyed by over 7,000 products. Sri Lanka could gain much by enhancing exports to Poland. As the share of exports is small at present, Sri Lanka could work towards exporting more products to the EU market through a better relationship with Poland,” Deputy Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, Nalin Bandara Jayamaha said.

“Measures need to be taken to gain a sizable market share in Poland as it is the second largest export market in the European region. The launch of non-stop flights between Warsaw and Colombo will provide an impetus for growth in trade and tourism while Sri Lanka could market the country as a preferred destination in Europe,” he said. Deputy Foreign Minister of Poland, Maciej Lang said, “The business forum could be considered as an opening for bigger cooperation in terms of cultural exchange and commerce. Trade between Poland and Sri Lanka has rapidly grown from US $ 19 million to $ 199 million over the past years. There is huge potential for growth and the two countries need to tap this potential fast.

“Poland is considered the fastest growing economy in Central Europe. It recorded 5.2 percent GDP growth last year. The inclusion of Poland in the EU single economy has given us a lot of opportunities. Sri Lanka could benefit from this. This is an ideal platform to grow trade and tourism. As air connectivity has been established, it is easier than before to engage in trade and commerce. This has also opened up more investment opportunities,” he said. The Business Forum and B2B meetings are expected to harness the full potential in trade and tourism between the two countries, he said.

The EDB is of the view that it is necessary to take measures to increase awareness among Sri Lankan exporters on the Central European market and to create business links with super markets, retailers and buying agents in Poland.

With the regaining of the EU GSP+ concession by Sri Lanka, EU importers are exempted from paying import duty on over 7,000 product lines exported from Sri Lanka and that has widened the avenues for Sri Lankan exporters to reach European markets by offering competitive prices for our products.

In line with Sri Lanka’s National Export Strategy, the country will the market diversification strategies by exploring the opportunities in untapped markets such as Central Europe. Although Sri Lankan exports to Central and Eastern Europe have increased by 32% from 2016 to 2018 with the advantage of the GSP+ concession, there is a huge potential in further promoting exports.

Chairperson and Chief Executive of EDB, Indira Malwatte, emphasised the importance for Sri Lankan exporters entering the Central European market, as 94% of the Sri Lankan exports to Europe are concentrating only on five Western European countries.

She said that the launch of LOT Polish Airline flights from Warsaw to Colombo, will undoubtedly contribute to business development with the Europe market. It terms of size of the economy, Poland is the largest economy in Central and Eastern Europe. At present, the country is said to be experiencing a ‘golden age’ in economic and cultural development.

Poland GDP growth averaged 4.2% per annum between 1992-2019. It is the seventh largest economy in the EU with a total GDP of €524 billion. Poland has a population of 38 million compared to Sri Lanka’s 21 million. The country comprises a vibrant entrepreneurial landscape of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It has a large domestic market – potentially lucrative target for Sri Lankan exporters with strong competitive advantages in neighbouring European countries.

Poland is the only EU country to avoid recession in the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. Sri Lanka could capitalise from the population with a large disposable income per capita of USD 19,814. Poland showcases strong growth in the ‘New Economy’ – including sectors such as tech, e-commerce and video game development. There are 300 game developing companies - including the world famous CD Projekt - operating in Poland and over 20 are listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange.

Trade between Poland and Sri Lanka last year was $ 97 million, while Sri Lanka’s exports to Poland amounted to $ 45 million. There is a strong potential to increase the number of tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka. The number of arrivals from EU to Sri Lanka: 800,000 tourists (2018). From Poland to Sri Lanka – 20,000 (2018), she said.