Digitalization key for trade finance: HNB CEO

2018-02-20 00:00:06

Trade Finance Association of Bankers held its annual public seminar at the ‘Golden Rose’, Boralesgamuwa recently. 

The event was held as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations on the theme ‘International trade at the tipping point’. The seminar was well attended and the participants were mainly bankers, importers and exporters.

Jonathan Alles Managing Director / Chief Executive Officer, Hatton National Bank, delivering the keynote said that the government policy is to grow exports through Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Government’s ‘Vision 2025’ targets exports of US$ 20 billion and Foreign Direct Investments of US$ 5 billion per annum, thereby raising the per capita income. It plans to enhance capacity by embrace new technology, making value additions to the traditional basket, establishing regional value chains and a global production networks.”

In setting up of manufacturing industries through PPP and FDI, focus will be on the priority areas for investment and the government has set up a PPP Unit under the Ministry of Finance. The government plans to integrate with the global production networks through export-oriented industrialization. It will focus on Ease of Doing Business Index and formulate the new trade policy and the national export strategy to make Sri Lanka a global trade and logistics hub thereby attracting more export-oriented FDIs, and improve trade logistics, create transparent and efficient customs procedures in order to compete in global markets. Banks’ role will be to access to finance, to facilitate innovative products, e-commerce and m-commerce and as advisors to broaden horizons.

Digitalization will be a key factor. Technology transformation with a priority for trade finance. The benefits of new technology have not been fully realized. Convergence of physical, financial and document chains, the automation of key processes, due-diligence checks, streamlining Customs procedures in order to reduce costs and complexities and improve working-capital management
The concerns that need to be addressed are; the large fiscal deficits. Inflationary pressure. The large import content, strain on the trade balance and balance of payments and high foreign debt servicing costs. Hence we must; prioritize infrastructure investment which should lead to higher export earnings.  Reduce import expenditure and improve ports and transport infrastructure.

The keynote was followed by a presentation on the ‘Emerging Developments in Trade – Implications for Sri Lanka by Anushka Wijesinha, Economist, Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade. He amplified some of the issues raised in the keynote with regard to the government’s plans to develop international trade and how the trade practioners can contribute to its success..

The final session was a panel discussion. The panelists were Parama Dharmawardene, Janathillangantilake, Assistant General Manager, Trade Services, Hatton National Bank and Chatura Rudesh, Head of Trade Services, Sampath Bank. The Moderator was Nilam Jumat, Former Assistant General Manager, Hatton National Bank. 


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