From left: Deputy High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka Dr. Shilpak Ambule, State Finance Minister Eran Wickramaratne and Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen checking out some products on display.
Pic by Kithsiri de Mel
Sri Lankan SMEs, a key driver of the country’s GDP are to collect a hefty packaging bonanza, the first such initiative by the State.
“Like in any other country, Sri Lanka’s packaging industry too is cross-cutting. Printing and packaging are important elements in branding Sri Lanka to the global markets, especially for our SMEs striving for international markets. Realising this, we have launched new initiatives to strengthen packaging for our SMEs recently,” said the Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen yesterday addressing the launch of Lankapak 2018 International Packaging & Printing Exhibition.
The new initiative for SMEs by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce is in two stages and involves Rs. 10.3 million and close to 150 SMEs as beneficiaries. In the first stage around 100 SMEs were trained and equipped in packaging at a cost of Rs. 6.2 million. In the planned next stage (2019) another 50 SMEs will be strengthened in packaging at a cost of Rs. 4.5 million. In addition, yet another project is also being planned by the Ministry to build skills for SMEs especially for promotions and market access.
A great number of Lankan micro and SME enterprises are active in food, and an estimated 40 percent of Lankan SMEs operate in the food
“We have launched new initiatives to strengthen packaging for our SMEs recently. Though high quality exports packaging is important for competitive international markets, many export items with “cover packaging” and “non-recyclable packaging” are now faced with increasing challenges abroad. Also the international packaging requirements are impacting on our exports.
“According to the global card firm MASTERCARD, clear packaging instructions and communication can help in effective and improved exports. We have also been seeing more and more innovative packaging solutions that can be re-used. The “post-consumer packaging” is a big challenge we are faced with both in our domestic market as well as export markets. Since the unity government promotes environmentally friendly policies, we encourage degradable packaging material in Sri Lanka.”
Lankan SMEs power more than half the Lankan economy with 35 percent - 40 percent of total employment. Around 60 percent of all Lankan enterprises are seen as SMEs.
Deputy Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Dr Shilpak Ambule addressing the event said that packaging is as important as the product itself. “Indian packaging industry has become the fifth largest packaging industry in the world.
Huge investments in food and FMCGs have boosted the packaging sector in India. Sri Lankan industries partnering with Indian industries through outsourcing is an asset to India. Considerable volume of Lankan exports to India are in food products-such as tea. The process of recognition of Sri Lankan (food testing) labs by Indians has been a long-standing demand by Lankan industry.
“The Food Safety and Standard Authority India (FSSAI) is currently working on the certification of Lankan labs. We expect growth of export of food products from Sri Lanka to India even further.”
In 2017, Sri Lanka’s total trade with India stood at US$ 5.1 billion, increasing by 18 percent from 2017’s US$ 4.3 billion. Exports from Sri Lanka to India was at US$ 689.5 million while total imports from India to Sri Lanka was at US$ 4,496 million. India is ranked as the 3rd largest export destination for Sri Lanka in 2017.