The Import Section of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), which is regarded as the largest grouping of local importers, will mark its 80th anniversary on November 22, 2015, thus marking an eventful and productive service contributed to the Sri Lankan economy. Therefore, it is opportune to reflect upon its history and development from the modest beginnings.
The stimulus to constitute an Import Section, under the auspices of the CCC, originated in the early years of the 20th century, considering the emerging importance of the import trade back then. Accordingly on June 7, 1901, a few members of the chamber, who were engaged in the import trade, took the initiative of forming the first-ever ‘Ceylon Importers’ Association’, the name which the Import Section was originally called. The prime objective of this association was to provide leadership in dealing with policy and related matters pertaining to the island’s import trade. Since the formation of the association, it worked tirelessly to help the national economy grow, while looking after the interest of the importers. However, suddenly after nine years of continuous work, since the commencement, the association’s work came to an abrupt end and it did not function up until the year 1928. However, the association was resuscitated and re-established on December 3, 1928. Once again, the Ceylon Import Association was actively involved in what they knew best, assisting the importers and at its fourth Annual General Meeting, a resolution was adopted empowering the committee “to take such steps as may be necessary to conform to any proposals from the CCC that this association be converted into a Section of the Chamber”.
As the only direct trade association functioning under the aegis of the CCC and the only privileged section to be directly under the banner of the CCC, the Import Section has played a vital role in help shaping the Sri Lankan economy by way of promoting, coordinating and supporting the interests of the import trade. Additionally, it was also authorized to “make rules, collecting information and take such other action from time to time as may be necessary to protect its members in matters pertaining to this trade generally”. In being in line with its vision, the Import Section has taken several initiatives with the support of the successive governments to ensure that the best interests of importers are met. This will be its prime objective in the future as well. The Import Section of the CCC plays a critical role in the continuous advancement of the import sector of the country. It initiates action to identify future trends, focuses on key issues and assists in the development of strategic plans to meet new challenges and opportunities. It also maintains an excellent rapport with the state sector and provides a platform for its members to project issues affecting their trade.
During the past eighty years Sri Lanka has undergone drastic economic changes and the Import Section has successfully overcome all these barriers by adapting itself to these changes. The section played a vital role towards the development and improvement of the Import Trade and indulged in lobbying on behalf of the members, which assisted them in achieving their targets and goals. The Import Section, in accordance with its objectives, has assumed a pivotal role by promoting, coordinating and supporting the interests of the import trade for the past 80 years. As a representative body of importers, it has stood together over the last 80 years and will continue to do so, responding to the needs of importers in times of rapid change.
Considering the yeoman service the section has rendered to the import trade, the committee has thought it fit to commemorate this historic occasion in an appropriate manner. In addition to the routine seminars/presentations, etc., to be organised marking the event, the section has also lined up a series of special events such as recognizing of outstanding personalities from the government organisations, who are closely linked to the import trade, publishing of a special newspaper supplement and also printing of a souvenir, titled ‘80th Anniversary Celebrations’.
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