Exporters back $ 20 bn goal by 2020
Sri Lanka’s exporters have lauded the government for its 2013 budget
and have openly and actively thrown their full weight behind the
national export goal of $ 20 billion by 2020.
Meanwhile an international management consultancy firm termed Sri
Lanka’s recent linking-up with UK’s Tesco ‘a good hit’. “We thank the
treasury and the government for giving us an exporter friendly budget
2013 with several relief measures granted to exporters.
So now it is for exporters to take these relief measures forward and
achieve the government’s target of $ 20 bn by 2020” said Dr.Jagath
Peiris, President of National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka. Dr
Peiris was addressing the 18th Annual General Meeting of National
Chamber of Exporters at the Grand Ball Room Hilton Hotel.
Anura Siriwardene ,Secretary, Ministry of Industry and
Commerce addressing the 18th Annual General Meeting of
National Chamber of Exporters at Grand Ball Room of Hilton
Hotel recently. Dr.Jagath Peiris, President of National
Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka was also present.
The NCE’s AGM saw the presence of top NCE member firms that are
responsible for almost 50% of exports originating from Sri Lanka
annually. “2012 has been a challenging year. We knew it was going to be
The labour costs went up, minimum wages rose by 30%. Energy costs too
went up by 30-40%.
We, the exporters suffered due to that. Our input costs are high.
Cost leadership strategy is not going to work anymore.
It has shifted from Sri Lanka to other countries. New strategies need
to be explored. Best strategy would be by differentiation through value
addition, better service provision, better packaging etc. We need to
differentiate each and every one of our products, for us to take our
exports to the next level.
Innovation is how we could achieve this. We thank the treasury and
the government for giving us an exporter friendly budget 2013 with
several relief measures granted to exporters.
One such relief is the triple deduction for research expenditure on
required equipment and development of laboratory facilities to encourage
private sector engagement in research and innovation. We also praise tax
exemptions for certain imports related to solar energy.
Our requests to protect several local industries through cess, have
also been addressed in the Budget 2013. So it is for us to take these
measures forward and achieve the government’s ambitious target of $ 20
bn by 2020,” said NCE President (for second time) Dr Peiris, “We have
appointed six trade representatives in Canada, South Africa, Dubai,
Australia, Saudi Arabia, UK, and USA who provides us with (latest)
market information. We are also entering into an agreement with the
National Science Foundation so that we get facilities for exports
innovation, research and development. We believe that we can form the
Institute of Exports to give professionalism to exports sector. The
institute is expected to be formed based on guidelines and syllabus of
similar institutes in UK, Malaysia, India, Singapore and Australia,” he
Anura Siriwardene, Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce)
addressing the session stressed that despite concerted efforts by Sri
Lanka’s export sector, the crisis in West has affected the country’s
exports. “Export growth has indeed been satisfactory during 2011 and
2012, mainly due to the pragmatic programmes and policies adopted by the
government and also due to the resilience shown by the private sector
despite numerous adversities. The crisis aggravated in 2012, in the
developed countries, specially the West and USA, which absorb 55 % of
our exports. This has adversely affected our exports,” said Secretary
“The slowdown is not confined to Sri Lanka alone. Exports from India
and Thailand also slowed down during the recent past. It is of utmost
importance today to turn around the exports sector if we are to achieve
our exports goal. It is observed that Asian countries have shown
substantial economic growth and India and China are expected to show
strong positive growth in 2013 and 2014. Therefore the potential in
these markets are very high and we are concentrating on diversifying our
markets into BRICS and other emerging markets.
“I stress that the involvement of NCE is very important to
collectively confront the challenges faced by our exports sector. We
strongly believe that the private sector is the engine of growth. The
private public partnership is the key to achieve success in export
development programmes,” Siriwardene said.
“Sri Lanka paid a very high price to go for multilateralism.
Unfortunately, it did not work the same way we thought of. Thereafter
many countries started to go back to protectionism slowly,” said P D
Fernando, Director General of Commerce addressing the event. “Today this
is a big problem. WTO-Doha rounds could not go ahead. Many countries
wanted other countries to liberalise their trade. Lately, everyone is
talking of export led growth. So who is really left to import?” asked
“I applaud the recent move by the Department of Commerce by
successfully getting Tesco to Sri Lanka. These are the master strokes
that we need to play if we are to achieve our $ 20 bn exports,” said
Hilmy Cader, CEO, MTI Consulting, which is a Colombo based international
management consultancy. Cader thereafter outlined his export
prescription through a series of thought provoking queries.
“We have to start by critiquing ourselves as to how successful we
have been in our exports against our competitors. How can we offer a
value proposition to international markets? How do we make more of our
companies multinationals? Is our real definition of exports mean only
tangibles? I think services need to be given a bigger place in our
exports. Having done that how do we finally make those numbers work? We
need to have a clearer focus on who is enabling what, a clear mapping?
The other important question is what are we good as a country? Are we
good in manufacturing or services?
Because that finding in turn will determine what we will finally
export. Is the current crop of Sri Lankan exporters are going to take us
to $ 20 Bn by 2020 or are they very comfortable in $ 10 Bn range? In
some of our export sectors, I really don’t see them having such a drive.
Export goals will come only if you have export entrepreneurs with real
drive to make a mark in the global market. And that is where companies
like Brandix excelled and have become world class companies.