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EU GSP+ stands out as vital trade tool for Sri Lanka’s pandemic recovery

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But ‘Rules of Origin’ viewed as diluting the objective

by Sanath Nanayakkare

EU’s GSP+ trade concession that reduces or eliminates tariffs on a range of exports from Sri Lanka, is one of the international trade tools Sri Lanka could better use in its effort towards post-pandemic recovery, Rajesh Aggarwal, Chief, Trade Facilitation and Policy for Business of International Trade Centre (ITC) said recently.

“The EU-Sri Lanka Trade Related Assistance project has published the GSP+ Business Guide which provides relevant information for exporters from Sri Lanka to gain awareness as to how to get the most from this preferential trade scheme,” he said speaking at a webinar on ‘GSP+ for Enhanced Market Access’, hosted by the EU-Sri Lanka Trade Related Assistance and the Department of Commerce in Sri Lanka.

Ananda Dharmapriya, Acting Director General of the Department of Commerce speaking at the webinar referred to the ‘Country of Origin’ criteria included in the GSP+ Business Guide.

” In this regard, the Sri Lanka apparel sector has submitted a joint request to the EU Commission for cross regional cumulation for raw material originate from Indonesia. A high-level discussion with the EU Commission to get approval for this joint request of Sri Lanka and Indonesia on regional cumulation for apparel products is an important matter that needs to be looked into in the near future. Further, we expect to make a formal submission to the EU Commission to source fabric from Vietnam, as Vietnam recently entered into a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU.

‘Although there has been a gradual increase in exports to the EU after regaining GSP+ from 2017, the utilisation of EU GSP+ by Sri Lanka was only 62% in 2019. Despite the fact that GSP+ has generally been observed as a beneficial platform, with over 7,000 product lines eligible for duty-free entry under the GSP+, Sri Lankan exporters are concentrating only on a few sectors due to the cost of compliance included in Country of Origin criteria, it was pointed out.

Dharmapriya pointed out that Rules of Origin were the key reason for this and it has nothing to do with a lack of awareness or willingness to benefit from the facility. “Utilisation of EU GSP+ by the apparel sector is only 52% as Sri Lanka’s apparels are made of fabric imports from outside the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the EU region which are not eligible for EU GSP+ concession,” he said.

The cost of compliance involved with the Country of Origin criteria, which is excluded from the tariff concessions, was also highlighted as another reason for the under-utilisation of the GSP+ facility by Sri Lankan exporters.



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Passport Office collaborates with banks to boost international monetary transfers from migrants

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Central Bank Governor, Ajith Nivard Cabraal hands over a new account to a young migrant worker which he opened at the new HNB counter at the Passport Office yesterday, where Jonathan Alles, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of HNB was present. Pic by Thushara Athapaththu

by Sanath Nanayakkare

People’s Bank, National Savings Bank , Sampath Bank, Hatton National Bank and Commercial Bank of Sri Lanka yesterday established new banking counters at the Department of Immigration and Emigration, at ‘Suhurupaya’, Battaramulla.

The initiative is intended support the Central Bank’s ongoing effort to boost the country’s foreign reserves by offering migrant workers access for safe, official remittance channels from the time they obtain new passports or renew their passports for international jobs.

Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka who was the chief guest of the opening ceremony said,” A lot of Sri Lankans go overseas for jobs and send their hard-earned money to Sri Lanka. Sometimes they face various issues when remitting money. So we thought we should provide the opportunity for them to open an account as they obtain their passports at the passport office which they can operate with greater ease and trust when sending money to their families from abroad. The Controller of Immigration and Emigration, his staff, the officials at the Central Bank and at other relevant banks worked in unison to establish their counters here just within a week. This shows that government institutions can collaborate with the private sector and quickly accomplish any task for the benefit of the country and its people. Our hard-working migrant workforce will enjoy the convenience and reliability of this service. As a result of it, more foreign money will flow into the country and the nation will reap benefits from it,” he said.

Workers’ remittances have been a key pillar of Sri Lanka’s foreign currency earnings that has nearly 100 per cent of domestic value addition, providing a substantial cushion for external sector resilience of the country. Workers’ remittances have covered around 80 per cent of the annual trade deficit over the past two decades, and strengthening remittances inflows to the country brings several socio-economic benefits including the smooth supply of forex inflows to the formal banking system.

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka established a new department named ‘Foreign Remittances Facilitation Department’ with effect from November 3, 2021 to facilitate and streamline workers’ remittances inflows to the country.

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SLT-MOBITEL powered SLIOT Challenge 2020 and IESL RoboGames 2020 fostering innovation

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SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT, Telecommunications and Mobile Services Provider was the proud sponsor of SLIoT Challenge 2020 and IESL RoboGames 2020, championing innovation in Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics to reward and further develop a pipeline of tech talent and critical skills among Sri Lanka’s youth. The winners of the competitions were honoured at a special ceremony held recently.

SLIoT Challenge 2020 and IESL RoboGames 2020 was a collaborative effort between SLT-MOBITEL, the Department of Computer Science & Engineering of the University of Moratuwa and the IT and Computer Engineering Sectional Committee of Institution of Engineers of Sri Lanka (IESL). Recognising the value of promoting digital inclusion among youth and to develop new generation technology concepts, SLT-MOBITEL sponsored the event for the fourth consecutive year. Both competitions encourage technological innovation among youth which in turn provides avenues for SLT-MOBITEL to capitalize on its futuristic thinking towards a connected future.

The SLIoT Challenge 2020 theme centred around the current pandemic ‘Overcoming COVID-19 with IoT’ and over 77 submissions were received. SLT-MOBITEL comprehends that IoT is being widely embraced with the number of connected devices growing rapidly. SLT-MOBITEL recognizes that driving an IoT competition for Sri Lankan youth allows students to unleash their potential in the IoT domain and acts as a gateway to support the country’s evolution towards digital transformation.

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Akshata launches unique new tea blends

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Akshata brand, a pioneer in promoting health and wellness the traditional way presents herbal tea alongside honey/jaggery as an alternative to sugar, redefining tea consumption.

Akshata ‘Ranawara’ herbal tea which promotes clear skin and health benefits for the body is dedicated to Queen Soma Devi who was acclaimed for her beauty, bravery, and sacrifice to save King Valagamba in 77 BC.

Managing Director of Grains N Green, Roshan Perera says, “In addition to the myriad of health benefits, consumers are encouraged to experience a taste of nostalgia with each sip of Akshata herbal tea. Today’s health-conscious consumers increasingly buy items that support their nutrition and fitness. Sugar is no longer included in this list due to its negative impact on one’s health. That’s why we have introduced healthy alternatives for sugar. Putting honey or jaggery in tea is a much healthier choice than using sugar as it does not raise blood sugar levels as quickly, and with our product you can get the tea as well as

the sweeteners all in one pack. This saves time, money, and is a healthier alternative to drinking tea with sugar.”

Akshata herbal tea with bees honey/Jaggery is available at Spar and Glomark supermarkets and can also purchase online at askshatastore.com

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