- The 4-year project was aimed at assisting SMEs to increase trade competitiveness in the EU and regional markets
- It particularly helped exporters to become more professional, competitive, in generating higher income
By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
The Trade Related Assistance Project extended by the European Union (EU) to Sri Lanka came to a close this week after a successful four-year implementation programme.
Funded entirely by the EU, the project was carried out with a total fund of 8 million Euros and aimed at assisting local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to increase their trade competitiveness in the EU and regional markets.
The EU Trade Related Assistance Project was implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in partnership with the Department of Commerce (DoC) of the Ministry of Trade.
Speaking on the success of the four-year project, Delegation of the EU Head of Cooperation Frank Hess said the project has done so much work in so many areas, and most of this was successful.
“Over the last years and also today in the last project steering committee, we have heard quite a few personal stories and the majority, if not all of these, are indeed success stories. They illustrate and go beyond the words ‘trade is better than aid’,” he said while addressing the final meeting in Colombo last evening.
Hess stressed that the project has helped the Sri Lankan economy, the government and the private sector, in particular the exporters and workers, to become more professional, competitive, and to generate more income by exporting to Europe and other regions.
Reflecting similar sentiments, ITC National Project Coordinator Dr. Dayaratna Silva acknowledged that the project has helped Sri Lanka integrate policies and regulatory reforms of the World Trade Organization (WTO), allowing SMEs to make the most of potential opportunities resulting from the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP Plus).
“Since its commencement in November 2016, the EU-Sri Lanka Trade-Related Assistance project has strengthened the country’s macro-economic framework by expanding the export economy and promoting investment within Sri Lanka’s National Policy Framework,” he said.
Dr. Silva added in addition to a series of initiatives, national capacities were developed with the support of ITC in e-commerce, investment promotion, trade negotiations and policy dialogue to support policymakers and SMEs navigate complex multilateral, regional and domestic trading environments.