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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 105

Sri Lanka exports keep uptrend despite adverse conditions

By Quintus Perera

Colombo, 08 October, ( Sri Lankan trading tradition, entrepreneurial innovation and a strong sense of international linkage has always kept Sri Lanka’s economy buoyant, said, Shahzad A Chaudhry, High Commissioner of Pakistan in Sri Lanka, addressing the 15th Annual Natonal Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka Export Awards Ceremony, as Chief Guest held at Colombo Hilton Hotel, last week.

Loadstar (Pvt) Ltd clinched the Gold Award as the Most Outstanding Exporter in Sri Lanka.

The other Most Outstanding Exporter – Sector-wise were awarded to: Agriculture Sector Value Added: Ceylon Biscuits Ltd; Tea Sector – Bulk: Vintage Teas Ceylon (Pvt) Ltd; Tea Sector – Value Added: Amazon Trading (Pvt) Ltd ; Industry Sector: Loadstar (Pvt) Ltd; Garments Sector: Omega Line Ltd; Suppliers/Service Providers to Exporters Sector: Da Vinci Computerized Labels (Pvt) Ltd and Shore T Shore (Pvt) Ltd; Gems & Jewellery Sector: Diamond Cutters Ltd and Export of Business & Professional Services Sector: Colombo Dockyard Ltd.

Chaudhry said that in 2006 Sri Lanka recorded over rupees six billion in exports is a sign of robust growth. Some asked him as how Sri Lanka achieves this growth rate while a war is on. He said he was aggrieved to note that it is not what they perform despite the war, but t is what they fail to achieve because of war.

He said that without war economy could have been galloping now for sometime, at the rate between 10 and 12 percent. He said “It is that 5 percent loss of growth that he counted in Sri Lanka’s otherwise very potent economy. Yet he said that nations must accept challenges and sacrifice when they have to.

Kulatunga Rajapaksa, President, National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka said that in an imports dependent developing country, like Sri Lanka with a small domestic market and with limited raw material resources, there is no alternative to exporting to achieve economies of scale in order to be able to penetrate and sustain international markets.

He said that these markets are becoming fiercely competitive reflecting the liberalized trade regime under the WTO framework and domestic production costs keep rising due to reasons which are beyond the control of producers and exporters.

He said that the disproportionately high cost of energy and high cost of finance are just two of the many high cost centres. In addition to the poor infrastructure, the exporters have had to face severe setbacks due to restrictions on night flights during a short period and also due to unwarranted work stoppages and security issues at the Colombo Port.

He said that since June this year freight rates out of Colombo to Europe have increased by US $ 750 per 20 foot container which is a 100 percent increase and the unreasonable terminal handling charges is an additional burden. Rajapaksa said that even at these rates shippers find it difficult to obtain cargo space on ships plying from the Far East to Europe. The problem may aggregate in the coming months. This situation has risen because Europe is ordering bigger volumes of goods from China reflecting strengthening of the Euro against the dollar.

He said that the short term solution for this serious problem is to improve the efficiency of the Colombo Port and up-pgrade in to a Hub Port level.

He said that delays in VAT refunds is another major constraint faced by all exporters forcing them to borrow short term funds through overdraft facilities at exorbitant rates of interest for working capital.

He said that to be competitive in international markets it is vital that the State support and assistance be provided to these exporters for the promotion of national brands of Sri Lankan products on the lines of Ceylon Tea with the Lion Logo.

- Asian Tribune -

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