‘EU market open to 600 local products but SL exports only 60 items’


By Steve A. Morrell

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Chief Guest at the CIMA Business Leaders’ Summit, Tuesday, said the re-granting of‘GSP Plus certification for this country meant that the doors were now open to export at least 600 products to the European Union (EU) countries and to other parts of the world. But he lamented that currently he could identify only about 60 different products being exported by Sri Lanka.

"Dependence on tea, rubber, and garments was not enough." He said because of successful negotiations this government was able to establish its credibility to re-assert its international good standing. Sri Lanka was now an accredited partner in trade with the international community. ‘I do not need to belabor the point that we lost this facility, during the watch of the previous administration’. He said that as a sequel to the GSP withdrawal at that time many were literally thrown out of employment, and the economy was in dire straits. Sri Lanka’s economic gap widened from 160 billion to 600 billion, representing a percentage increase of 265 percent. The debt burden was so severe that in 2015, when the government changed, the economy was in serious trouble.

However, subject to economic reforms being enacted the debt burden would be brought down. The Prime Minister added that with the implementation of economic reforms the debt burden would be erased. Sri Lanka’s economic performance would record a surplus by 2020.

"Many of you in this room may be entrepreneurs . But are your products in competition with products available internationally. The government will assist you. But it is up to you to mobilize your resources to ensure your exports are acceptable in the international market place, he explained.

"Expand your technological options. In 1981 we gave school children free books. But now in concurrence with modern advance in technology, every A level student will get Tabs. When they move into the job market they would be knowledgeable to handle technological advances and fit into international demand driven professionalism that would not leave us behind, he added. He exhorted the largely accountant audience , ‘Do your part’.

"Sri Lanka will shortly attain hub status in the Indian Ocean. The Highway from Kandy is being constructed with Japanese assistance. We have a new Industrial Estate, tourist resorts range from Hambantota to Weliweriya. Make this a product driven country , the Prime Minister, said.

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