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EDB intensifies online export promotions



Due to the difficulties of organizing physical export promotion programmes during this pandemic situation, the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) in collaboration with Foreign Ministry and the Sri Lankan Missions overseas has initiated online sessions to enable foreign buyers and Sri Lankan exporters meet via virtual platforms with the objective of creating trade linkages between Sri Lanka and the rest of the world, as it is imperative to sustain the nation’s export promotional activities in spite of severe challenges caused by COVID-19.

Numerous B2B meetings were conducted by the EDB under this initiative in collaboration with the Sri Lankan Missions overseas and foreign trade chambers. The B2B meetings were conceptualised based on the products that have potential to access the respective markets. The Sri Lankan Missions overseas took the responsibility to introduce potential buyers/ importers for the selected products and the EDB coordinated with both the Sri Lankan Missions and Sri Lankan exporters to organize online meetings in an effective manner.

Initial webinars were conducted prior to the B2B sessions to make exporters aware of the market conditions/trends, tariffs, taxes and other regulations as well as available concessions through free trade agreements and other preferential trade arrangements in the particular market areas. This series of meetings covered all the regions -the Americas, Asia, the EU, and the Middle East for the identified potential product sectors.

Market focus

Targeting the Americas region, B2B events were carried out with buyers mainly from the USA, Brazil and Chile for product sectors such as personal protective equipment (PPE), tea, cinnamon, curry leaves, coconut oil, beer, fabrics, lingerie, shapewear, coir-related products. As a result, some exporters are currently discussing with foreign buyers to send samples while few of them are making arrangements for their first orders.

Another virtual business meeting was conducted between six buyers from Qoo10 online platform and Sri Lankan companies related to kids’ stationary and educational toys in partnership with the Sri Lankan High Commission in Singapore and Singapore Business Federation. Sri Lankan exporters in apparel and spice sectors benefitted by a B2B meeting programme jointly organized by the EDB and the Sri Lanka Embassy in Poland in collaboration with the Honorary Consul for Sri Lanka in Poland.

For the Japanese market, three B2B sessions were held for coir-related products, cocopeat and ayurveda and herbal cosmetics.

Promoting agriculture-related products

Several B2B meetings took place with the participation of Sri Lankan companies in the spices and concentrates sector with buyers from the USA. Further, participant exporters benefited from the B2B events organized in collaboration with the Sri Lankan High Commission in the UK for the ayurveda and herbal cosmetics, coconut milk and vanilla product sectors.

A number of B2B meetings were conducted for the Sri Lankan coconut-based products with the Turkish buyers for sub-sectors such as desiccated coconut, cocopeat, activated carbon and coconut kernel products. Preliminary discussions have been held with the Sri Lankan Mission in South Africa to organize B2B meetings for edible coconut products, coir and growing mediums. Fruitful and productive business meetings were organized for coconut products and spices by the EDB and the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Jordan.

Creating opportunities for industrial products

A virtual B2B meeting for the apparel industry for products such as men’s wear, women’s wear, kids wear, rainwear, hats etc. was conducted during the last two months, and many Sri Lankan companies reaped benefits by the meetings they had with buyers from France and Poland.

A business meeting session was also conducted between Sri Lankan boat building companies and a boat builder from Denmark. This was followed by additional meetings for the boat building sector in different markets and consequent to it, there is an ongoing discussion to form a joint venture between a Turkish ship builder and a reputed Sri Lankan ship building company in the near future. Furthermore, proposals from the Sri Lankan companies were shared with an Omani party to explore suitable collaboration in the boat building sector. B2B meetings for printing and packaging products were carried out with two buyers from India with the support of the Sri Lankan High Commission in New Delhi.

Focusing on high-value exports, the EDB in collaboration with theirs Lankan Embassy in Thailand organized a meeting to create linkages between SLINTEC and a Thai auto manufacturer and a battery manufacturer to promote graphene for Lead Acid and Lithium Ion batteries. It is believed that these discussions will create more business collaboration with Thailand enabling Sri Lanka to penetrate this emerging market.

The EDB and the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission in Chennai organized a virtual B2B session with the Indian Electrical and Electronics Manufacturers’ Association from 05th to 09th October in which 66 B2B meetings were held with 10 Sri Lankan companies. Further, business sessions were conducted among Sri Lankan electronics and electrical sector manufactures/exporters with buyers from Germany in collaboration with the Sri Lankan Embassy in Germany.

Promotions for the export services sector

A key online event was held in August for the ICT/BPM sector in which leading Sri Lankan start-ups and product engineering companies successfully pitched for clients in Japan. The main objective of this event was to introduce 07 start-ups and product engineering companies to the Japanese market and create business linkages to strengthen Japan – Sri Lanka Business partnership. Forty-five (45) Japanese participants attended the event.

In order to highlight the potential of Sri Lanka’s logistics services, two webinars were held connecting the Sri Lankan missions in countries from the Far East and Europe. Hub operators who participated in those webinars are in communication with the Sri Lankan missions seeking further opportunities to connect with the business community in the targeted markets.

Forthcoming online B2B programmes

The EDB is eagerly exploring options to conduct B2B programmes with China for multi products in collaboration with the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Guangzhou, China, and Yunnan Commercial Office in Colombo. Additionally, the details of interested companies have been shared with the Bank of China for the online match-making event which will be conducted to coincide with the 3rd China International Import Expo in November 2020.

At the same time, discussions are ongoing to organize B2B programmes for the identified products such as automobile components, spices (red pepper varieties), natural rubber, kitchen utensils, porcelain products for the South Korean market and coconut, tea, betel leaves and rubber products for the Pakistan market. Another program is being planned for the Turkey market for multi sectors in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Embassy and the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK) while a separate interactive virtual conference followed by B2B meetings will be held by companies in the country’s logistics sector for the Federation of Indian Exporters Organization on 10th November.

As the online platform is the best mechanism to promote exports in the international market owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EDB will discuss with other Sri Lankan overseas missions to organize more webinars as well as B2B programmes. (EDB Press Release)



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Dhammika asks Ranil to resign as FM



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Minister of Investment Promotion, Dhammika Perera, yesterday told the media, in Colombo, that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had to resign from his post as Finance Minister.

Minister Perera said that the Prime Minister was blocking all dollar earnings, borrowings, bridging finance, available essential food credit lines and other credit lines.

“I am joining the Aragalaya from today. I have been in the government for seven days. I have seen what happens. The Prime Minister must stop his political game as the Minister of Finance,” he said.

Perera added that Wickremesinghe had no plan to boost the cash flow, about feeding people, or bringing in dollars.

The Minister of Investment Promotion said that instead of describing the people’s economic woes, the Finance Ministry had to find solutions.

“For example, the proposal to give investors 10-year multiple visas was finalised some time ago. One month has since elapsed, but the Treasury is sitting on it. This is because Ranil is in the habit of stopping projects if they bring in dollars. More than 50 people have come to get the visa by paying 100,000 USD.

About 300 more are on the list. We can bring in 30 million dollars to Sri Lanka, this month, with the help of this visa scheme. Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister is inviting disaster,” Minister Perera said.

Perera added that while Wickremesinghe could continue as the Prime Minister, but as the Finance Minister, the latter had no desire to resolve the foreign currency crisis. All of Sri Lanka’s economic woes are linked to the dollar shortage, he said.

“I challenge Ranil and his economic experts to an open media debate. Maybe he can answer my questions. I challenged him to a debate in 2019, and he ran away. I am challenging him again,” Minister Perera said.

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JVP Leader accuses govt. of hatching plot against his party



By Saman Indrajith

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake yesterday said that the government was planning to suppress his party by levelling false allegations against the latter.

Addressing the media at the party headquarters, Pelawatte, Dissanayake said that the plot hatched by the government could lead to bloodshed.

“A video has been released, on social media, instructing how to make Molotov Cocktails. The voice, in the footage, instructs the viewer to make bombs in a similar manner, and tie them to their bodies and explode themselves at the President’s House. The video says that after the explosion I would be appointed the President. Anyone would know that the JVP would not do anything stupid like that. This video is another attempt by the government to justify the use of violence against its critics. There have been similar instances in the past and this country has suffered heavily as a result,” Dissanayake said.

He said that his party lawyers would submit the video to the CID and demand an investigation from the police on who had created and uploaded it to social media. “There is a massive protest to be held in Colombo centering the Galle Face Aragalaya.

“We, too, will participate in it. The government’s response to the protests is to use the police and the army. In addition there are several other developments, including the creation of a para-military force against us. Each SLPP MP is given a chance to recruit five persons, loyal to him or her, as home guards to provide security to the MP. There was a letter from the IGP to Defence Secretary warning of possible bomb attacks. Our party’s name is there in that warning. I have queried this letter in Parliament, too, yet there is no explanation yet. It is in the same context some MPs have requested for personal firearms from the Defence Ministry. Taken together, these developments could indicate the plans of government suppression and what is there in store for us. We do not think that they could fool the people with these tricks. The CID is capable of investigating and finding the sources of any video against the President, in social media, within 24 hours. So we expect the same expedient action would be taken with regard to our complaint, too,” Dissanayake said.

He said that the JVP was prepared to stabilize the country and help bring it out of the current crisis in a short period of time.

Dissanayake said the JVP does not intend to do it alone and was confident that the citizens of the country, and Lankans overseas, would extend their support to the party for this purpose.

“This crisis cannot be resolved by changing posts or individuals, and especially not through a government that has lost the trust of the people,” he added.

When inquired about Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s statement in Parliament on his willingness to step down to allow Dissanayake to implement his economic plans, the MP said he was prepared to take up the task.

He said, however, that the President and Prime Minister must resign if he were to take up the challenge and implement JVP’s programme to save the country from the crisis.

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Move to set-up smoke-free zones: PHI union says member engaged in project harassed; Ministry says action in line with establishment code



by Ifham Nizam

Public Health Inspectors’ Union has accused a section of the Health Ministry officials of working against a project to establish smoke-free zones in Sri Lanka.

The union alleged that a PHI who served the anti-tobacco campaign and went to the extent of sacrificing his personal leave for the same had been denied annual increments.

It said that the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) organised a project, under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO), to set up at least one smoke-free zone in each Medical Officer of Health Division countrywide. The union said that it played a significant role in the project.

The union alleged that PHI T. G. S. L. Prakash, of the Principal Public Health Inspectors’ Unit of the Ministry of Health, had been invited as a resource person as he innovated a 10-step process for establishing smoke-free zones for combatting second hand smoke.

However, the Deputy Director General (Public Health Services) of the Ministry of Health Dr. S. M. Arnold had obstructed the project by blocking Prakash’s participation, the union alleged.

Responding to The Island queries, Dr. S. M. Arnold said that he acted in terms of the Establishment Code and recommendations made by the relevant committee. Dr. Arnold said that the PHI concerned applied for leave for his PhD on Elephant Ecology study overseas, and work-related to NATA did not come under their purview. Dr. Arnold pointed out that the PHI Union President was also working for NATA.

Public Health Inspectors’ Union, President. Upul Rohana has previously asked the Health Secretary to conduct an investigation into the conduct of Dr. S. M. Arnold. According to the union for more than five years, PHI Prakash has conducted various research on the establishment of smoke-free zones in collaboration with NATA and the WHO and published and presented the research results at local and international fora.

The union said that the Chairman of NATA had requested that PHI Prakash to participate in the project as the outfit could benefit from his experience and expertise he had gained overseas in tobacco prevention.

The union claimed that the PHI concerned had participated in the project utilising his personal leave. The union alleged that Dr. Arnold had said that he wouldn’t recommend the annual salary increment for the particular PHI Prakash as his attendance was unsatisfactory.

PHI Chief Rohana emphasised that the concerned Deputy Director General continued to harass the officers who volunteered for their duties, abusing the power of his positio. He said although the union had complained to the health authorities, no action has been taken in that regard so far and their union would not hesitate to resort to trade union action seeking justice.

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