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EU in trade development push for Lankan exports

31 August 2015 03:11 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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European Union (EU) has embarked on a project in collaboration with the Sri Lanka’s Commerce Department to enhance the technical skills of the export oriented Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) thereby increasing their trade competitiveness. 

The EU has committed as much as 8 million euros (Rs.1, 240 million) for this initiative called, ‘the EU-Sri Lanka trade development project.’ 

“During the last month, there has been extensive consultation with all stakeholders and the project is driven by what the stakeholders require,” said the Director General of Commerce, Sonali Wijerathne. 

Some of the Sri Lankan produce fall short of the export standards and quality required for entering the export markets and thus the project is expected to enhance quality standards of the Lankan produce. Quality and standards become particularly important when exporting to the US and European markets. 

Wijerathne said the proposals submitted by the stakeholders comprising of SMEs, Export Development Board and other related authorities have already been incorporated into the project. 

“We are hopeful the project could be off-the ground by first quarter of 2016,” she said addressing the Spices and Allied Products Producers and Traders Association Annual General Meeting recently.

 She further said her department had already met with the Spice Council, the apex industry body for the spices and allied products.  
Ninety percent of the spices are produced by small house gardens and small farmers in Sri Lanka. 

Sri Lanka’s export competitiveness has been on the decline since the last decade as country’s exports as a share of both gross domestic product and world exports have declined. 

Sri Lanka’s apparel exporters have lost their trade competitiveness against low cost manufacturers such as Bangladesh because the country lost its preferential access to EU countries through the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Plus due to failures to address the alleged human rights violations believed to have occurred at the final stage of the conflict. 

Later in January 2015, EU banned fish and fish products exports from Sri Lanka due to failure to adhere to sustainable fishing. 

However it is hopeful that both the lost GSP Plus would be regained and the fish ban would be lifted during the coming months as a result of the successful talks with the EU by the rainbow coalition that came in to power after the January 8th Presidential election. 
 
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