The European Union is to fund a project to boost Sri Lanka’s potential as a regional and international trading partner. The Rs.1.3 billion (EUR 8 million) project will be implemented by International Trade Center (ITC) with Sri Lanka’s Department of Commerce.
Expressing confidence in the project’s ambitions, Chargé d’Affaires of the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Paul Godfrey stated, “Increasing exports and trade is a vital part of the government’s strategy for economic growth and job creation in Sri Lanka. The EU is delighted to be working with ITC to support those aims by bringing international experience and best practice to Sri Lanka to identify ways in which the country can fulfil its potential as an important trading partner in the region and beyond.”
A joint agency of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations, ITC is the only international organization fully dedicated to supporting the internationalization of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The ITC will help Sri Lanka to integrate policies and WTO regulatory reforms and ensure the country’s SMEs make the most of the potential opportunities resulting from the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus.
The project is implemented in partnership with UNIDO, which will address compliance standards and efficiencies in-cross border procedures. It will also increase the competitiveness of value chains in the spice, food, information technologies and business process outsourcing sectors.
“Sri Lanka has risen steadily to become a regional trade and business hub. The ITC is proud to be working in partnership with the Government to support Sri Lankan businesses achieve this objective. This support from the EU will enable us step up work on trade policy, trade facilitation, quality and value-chain development to boost the competitiveness of Sri Lankan SMEs,” ITC Executive Director Arancha González said.
The European Union and Sri Lanka have diplomatic ties that span more than 40 years. Over that time, the EU has provided more than EUR 760 million in aid to Sri Lanka, making it one of the leading international donors to the country.
In the period up to 2020, the EU will provide EUR 210 million focused on continued support for development in the poorest rural areas and on national reconciliation.