Exports up from 13% to 20% of GDP since 2015 - Malik | Daily News


Exports up from 13% to 20% of GDP since 2015 - Malik

During the first seven months of this year, Sri Lanka’s export turnover amounted to $ 9.5 billion, while the target had been $ 18.5 billion. However the country will be able to get close to that target in the way it is progressing. So far there has been a 6.6% growth in the export of goods and merchandise during the first seven months, Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama told Parliament yesterday. Moving proposed regulations under the Export Development Board Act, the Minister said: “As per the Export Development Board Act, the scheme was introduced to register all the exporters, and this was done in August 1985. The main reason at that time was that two of the Government agencies – Sri Lanka Customs and the Inland Revenue Department - found this information necessary for their work. However, we have realised the removal of these requirements will effectively contribute to Sri Lanka’s Ease of Doing Business Index. There are other ways and means of finding who the exporters are and we have prepared a new gazette to revoke the earlier gazette that has been published.”

He noted that there is a weakening of the global economy. The trade war between the two major countries – United States and China led the World Bank to downgrade the growth rate to 3% – 3.1%. The GDP growth of India has reduced to 5% and in China 6% - 6.5%, adding that this creates adverse effect not only for those countries but for most of the other countries in the world.

However, he pointed out that Sri Lanka’s exporters have done extremely well despite the adverse trading conditions in the world and the issue we had locally. “Firstly, we had this unconstitutional coup in October 2018 followed by the tragic Easter bombings in April this year. In spite of this we have recorded export turnover in goods and services 17 billion. This has been the highest ever recorded in Sri Lanka.”

Minister Samarawickrama congratulated the country’s exporters and the efforts of the Export Development Board, his ministry and the other Ministries involved in the export sector. “We have taken many steps to achieve target set including US$28 billion by 2025. “Firstly, we realised we need to diversify the product base. As a result, a national export strategy was implemented. It was developed by the EDB, our Ministry and the private sector. The national export strategy identified six new sectors – boat building, IT services, wellness tourism, spices and concentrates, food processing, electrical and electronic components. We need to continue the exports of traditional products as well. We have identified new markets to enter into. There is a lot of scope exporting to Asia - India, China, and East Asia.”

The EDB had launched the ‘2000 Exporters’ programme aiming to create 2000 new exporters, the Minister said, adding that his ministry was conducting seminars around the country for this purpose. “About 750–800 new exporters were identified. Then we have the market access program where the EDB provides funding and matching grants for these exporters. Finally, we are looking at launching one village one product program similar to what was done in Thailand some time back. Hopefully, this would commence before the end of this month,” he added.

As far as the exports are concerned, the minister said, the country is on the right track.

“When our government took office the exports as a percentage of GDP was round 13% to 14%. Now it has gone up to 20% of GDP. But if we are to improve the economy, and if we are to get away from all these loans taken from time to time, I think our exports should reach at least US$ 35 billion and a percentage of GDP above 30%. We also need to ensure we bring in export-oriented industries to the country. This needs the mindset among our politicians, the bureaucrats and among our people. It is time that we look at high value investments, of course it will take 3–4 years to bring the results. But we must make the start. In this regard we are pleased to inform the BoI has taken steps in this direction.

The total of FDI came into Sri Lanka from 1978 to 2018 is only US$ 17.3 billion. But during the last five years we were able to get US$ 5.8 billion, which is about over 33%.

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