Progress of sectors under NES not adequate - Past NEC Chief | Sunday Observer

Progress of sectors under NES not adequate - Past NEC Chief

20 September, 2020

The progress of sectors under the National Export Strategy (NES) is not satisfactory despite the efforts to achieve the outcomes of the national strategy said the past head of the National Export Chamber on the progress of the NES.

National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) Immediate Past President Ramal G. Jasinghe said although there have been efforts to deliver the expected outcome of the NES it is clear that the progress under the sectors are not sufficient.

There should be greater  focus on the IT-BPM sector given the unexpected boost of digitisation as a result of the global pandemic to exploit the changing work ecosystems.

He said that the processed food and beverage sector has overall,  sustained their exports, given the nature of the exports, and its necessity due to the pandemic situation.

However, he said looking deeply into value addition, the products exported are not on par with the regional players. The exploitation of plus factors, such as the medicinal value of Sri Lankan food products and its use in traditional processing methods, specialised and developed  in this country could be a strong differentiator.

On the other hand improving productivity and quality of the output of processing operations is a significant need to meet the needs of the global market.

He said the NES focuses on five main export areas such as processed food and beverage sector, spices and concentrates, IT-BPM, boating industry, wellness tourism and electrical and electronic components. The overall export performance, during 2019, exports grew by 14.4 percent with a value of USD 16,140 million.

This growth was mainly due to industrial exports and agricultural exports indicated a decline. 

Regarding the NES, the favourable impact of the restoration of the EU GSP+ facility, conducive external trade policies with improved institutional support and some trade diversion resulting from the US-China trade tensions helped increase export earnings. However,  we have experienced and faced the brunt of the global economic contraction due to the  Covid-19 pandemic. 

On capitalising of the global shift from US and China for sourcing Jasinghe said Japanese investments moving away from China could be an opportunity for Sri Lanka.

The country should  explore the opportunity of attracting Export Catalyst Investments and technology transferring partnerships as a way forward.

To do business with the Japanese, one should maintain extremely transparent and ethical business practices, therefore, Sri Lankan business should build the infra structure, to be appealing to such global investors. Regional opportunity with the East Asian countries – taking into account the growth potential still lying within the East Asian countries; Sri Lanka could enter into partnerships and carefully negotiated bi-lateral or multilateral trade arrangements to reap benefits from the available potential.  Stressing on the need to create a conducive business environment in the country for export oriented investments Jasinghe said the country also should attract the investments and technologies to make use of these opportunities by building a conducive business environment. Sri Lankan exporters are doing their best within their capacities to exploit new markets related to the changes in the international market place which has been affected by the Covid-19 crisis. The Export Development Board (EDB) in consultation with Sri Lankan Missions Overseas is spearheading efforts to identify the emerging opportunities in international markets and guide exporters.

Exporters have  used this opportunity to reach newer markets. For example Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and rubber based products such as face masks were targeted at 12 markets, protective gowns sent to 17 markets. Exports that amounted to USD 227 million during April 2020, increased to USD 606 million by May 2020. However, he noted the challenge to the exporters is to develop innovative products to suit the emerging demands from the international markets in the post pandemic era, provide  wider digitised service exports, managing internal and domestic costs to ensure that competitiveness is maintained, maintaining sustainability related responsibility within the entire supply chain are factors that stands out at present.

“Adopting strategies to face the aforementioned challenges, is workable, and has been proven by the resilience and innovative nature of the export community, to make use of this unprecedented opportunity and place Sri Lanka’s exports firmly on the global map,” Jasinghe said.