Importers await lifting of import ban fully | Sunday Observer

Importers await lifting of import ban fully

15 November, 2020

There had been some ‘easing’ of the restrictions, as announced, but it is mainly shifting some HS Categories from ‘banned’ to ‘compulsory 90 days or 180 days Credit Terms’, said Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Import Section, Chairman Delano Dias on the current status of the easing of the import ban.Around 749 HS Category goods were banned for a period of three months by Gazette in April which was revised with more HS categories added bringing the ‘Banned list to 1,076 in May. “As announced in the April Gazette, after three months,  the Government brought down the banned HS categories to 829 by shifting 132 categories up to 180 days credit terms and indicating that the restrictions will remain for another six months,” Dias said.

By the Gazette dated September 15, the ‘banned’ HS categories were brought down to 584 by shifting most HS Categories to compulsory credit terms of 90 days bringing such category total to 1,014.

With the latest Gazette in October, the number of banned categories remain at 523 while 1,083 categories are in the 90 day credit while 130 categories are allowed only on 180 days credit terms.  The government slapped import restrictions on over 200 items to curtail the outflow of the fast dwindling foreign reserves to tackle the Covid pandemic that held a grip on foreign remittances and earnings from tourism.

The Sri Lankan Rupee depreciated to over Rs. 200 against the USD early this year and to-date it has devalued by around 1.5 percent against the Greenback.

Economists and industry experts cautioned the government of the short term policy that could have damaging effects on the economy which is by and large dependent on imports.

Imports of several non essential items including household appliances and vehicles were curtailed since April this year.
However, some silver lining was on the horizon with the news that the import ban would be lifted gradually taking into account the conditions and the need.
Sri Lanka’s imports were estimated at $15.9 billion in 2019, a decline of 16.2% since 2015. Year-on-year, Sri Lankan imports declined by 21.4% from 2018 to 2019.