By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
Sweet will soon turn sour for the confectionary industry if the government continues to turn a deaf ear to the repeated calls made for protection from heavy dumping of foreign brands, which have resulted local manufactures to lose their market share.
Concerned the issue will worsen once the Sri Lanka-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is inked, the Lanka Confectionery Manufacturers’ Association (LCMA) told Mirror Business stressing that passing of an Anti-Dumping and Countervailing bill is essential to help protect the local manufactures.
“For economic giants such as China, Sri Lanka is a small market where they can afford to dump their products at cheap prices and this is a major hit to local manufacturers. We urge the government to pass the Anti-Dumping and Countervailing bill as a precautionary action. If we fail to do so, there are no laws to protect us, once the proposed FTA is signed,” the association said.
With manufacturers having lobbied for protection since 1994, the Trade Ministry eventually presented a draft of the bill to Parliament in 2006. However, it has not been taken up for discussion since.
Speaking on behalf of the association, Motha Confectionery Works Director/General Manager Adrian Fonseka asserted that the government should be proactive and be ready to protect its markets.
“Many other countries have already enacted similar laws to protect their home entities. Negative impact due to the absence of the bill is already felt and further delaying it will lead to bigger issues such as poor quality products manufactured with inferior raw materials would flood in,” he said.
Fonseka stressed that the repercussions of this factor would be far greater than the economic loss the nation would face due to dumping.
“Today our member companies dominate in certain markets, such as biscuits, frozen confectionary and dessert mixes, to name a few. This means we are striving to prevent the drainage of hard-earned foreign exchange. Our member companies export to over 55 countries world over. If we have to close our factories due to dumping, it will affect the economy,” he pointed out.