Economic diplomacy by Lankan missions foreign ministry commendable - NCCSL | Daily News

Economic diplomacy by Lankan missions foreign ministry commendable - NCCSL

Asela de Livera at the 60th Annual General Meeting in Colombo.  Picture by Chaminda Niroshana
Asela de Livera at the 60th Annual General Meeting in Colombo. Picture by Chaminda Niroshana

The economic diplomacy activities carried out by the Sri Lankan missions abroad and the foreign ministry at large is commendable said President of National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka, (NCCSL) Asela de Livera at the 60th Annual General Meeting in Colombo.

He also said that initial steps taken by the authorities to prepare the National Export Strategy (NES) for Sri Lanka towards “Sri Lanka – An Export Hub driven by Innovation and Investment” is a step taken in the right direction and it should be revived at regular intervals.

“I believe that there should be a moderation in imports. More stringent measures are needed with regard to unessential imports that are causing this deficit in spite of the growth in exports. Maybe at least till the situation improves”.

Main driving force of Sri Lanka’s economy is the SME sector and 75% of the enterprises are SME’s and they provide over 40% of the employment in the country in diversified sectors ensuring growth.

“It is noted that unfortunately many SMEs do not use latest technology and have limited access to finance due to collaterals not being available. Further, SMEs are disconnected from their markets especially in the case of exports.”

Cross border production based on fragmentation theory is becoming popular in the SME’s spectrum. Due to technological advances various stages of manufacture could take place in different countries.

“As a result semi-processed goods may cross national borders many a time for these transactions, it therefore is of utmost importance to have increased efficiency and to reduce cost of cross border services”. “In order to ensure SMEs are well connected with global markets, the authorities have to introduce and maintain SME friendly policies. These policies focus on encouraging innovation, increasing competitiveness, providing cheaper access to inputs, lessening red tape and reduction of tariff and nontariff barriers through preferential Trade Agreements.”

Regional and bilateral trade agreements need to pave the way for SMEs to be meaningfully integrated with global value chains. Trade sections operating in our missions should find out information on how to and whom to contact to market our exports

I am proud to note that the National Chamber of Commerce works hand in hand with Provincial and District Chambers to address this situation.

“I think this is where it’s necessary for the larger established companies in this country to give a hand to the SME’s. They should encourage the local SME’s by handing over sub contract work to our local entrepreneurs or by purchasing semi-finished items.”

“ These larger companies should not only purchase from SME’s but also provide them the knowhow on how to maintain quality in production methods. I am sure if given this chance our own SME’s can remodel their production methods and quality to international standards.”

As per our statistics the shortages of skilled labour across all industries continue to be a hindrance in manufacturing and service industries in Sri Lanka. It is vital for Sri Lanka to have policies to increase skilled labour availability directed towards export related industries.There should be change in the attitude of young people joining industry for the first time to get into semi-skilled or hands on jobs. Social acceptance for these jobs is at a minimum level.

The government, private sector and media at large have a great national responsibility to make this transformation to happen. Commenting on agriculture he said that food and security in crops is very important to our economy. “We need to value add to our agricultural products and find markets for newly developed products”.

For many years weather had failed us and this should not be an issue even now if we encourage new methods to agriculture. Dubai grows its own food crops and even exports them to other gulf countries.

These are desert countries.Green houses and tunnel agriculture can be adopted to save water, and control the environment.


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