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Business

Sri Lanka to achieve US$ 20bn export revenue

Treasury Secretary outlines need for entrepreneurial culture:
Most Outstanding Exporter- Gold Award was awarded to Anverally and Sons Company, a leading tea exporter, Here Chairman Anverally and Sons Mohammed Anverally receiving the award from Secretary Ministry of Industry and Commerce,Anura Siriwardena Chamber President Jagath Peiris , Director SLT Wijesiri Ambawatte and Sydney Gajanayake loon on. Picture by Saliya Rupasinghe

Sri Lanka could achieve US$ 20 billion export revenue by 2020 under the peaceful and business friendly situation. But we were able to double its export revenue from 2002 compared to 2012, which was US$ 5 billion to US$ 9.2 billion amidst severe challenges and turbulences, Treasury Secretary, Dr. P.B. Jayasundera said.

''Our exporters now are working in an environment which enjoys much assistance from the government including with good ports and Customs and better infrastructure facilities. Therefore, reaching the US $ 20 billion export revenue mark would be possible with lowest income taxes and other incentives, Dr Jayasundera said at the 21st NCE Export Awards 2012 held last Friday at Colombo Hilton.

The event was organized by the National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka.

He said Sri Lanka had lagged behind many countries which were on par or behind the per capita income in the past. He also said the Sri Lankan culture should be converted into an entrepreneurial culture and needs to become a manufacturing nation rather than just exporting to increase export revenue under the current circumstances.

Sri Lankan exporters should learn some lessons to achieve that US$ 20 billion mark by value adding to our exports for tea, rubber and coconut stopping bulk exports which gives more profits.

Therefore we could become a rubber manufacturing hub with our natual situation, Dr Jayasundera said. He said the Sri Lankan apparel sector developed without much trouble to the government and it was a best example for value addition where it brings a lot of foreign exchange into the country.

Sri Lanka should now export not only to US and European markets but also export to huge Asian markets and other new areas in the future, which has enormous potential in other growing markets like Indian, Chinese, South Korea and in many countries in the Middle East, he said.

“Today the world is growing and every country has put the development process back on track, but Sri Lanka got infrastucure and other development requiements are in place to cater to new world markets,”Dr Jayasundera said.

Further our exports also could double by market and product diversification. Therefore the government has taken all necessary steps to improve the Sri Lanka Customs and Income Tax Department to help the export sector,” Dr Jayasundera said.

In 2012 the Sri Lankan economy grew by 6.4 percent in 2012, following 8.2 percent growth in 2011 and 8.0 percent growth in 2010.

The average growth during the last three years was 7.5 percent in comparison to 6.6 percent during the preceding eight years, he said. Therefore economy has shifted to a high growth momentum benefiting from post conflict peace and reconciliation, new capacity generated in the economic infrastructure through public investment and enhanced private investments in the real economy, Dr Jaysundera said.

Whilst 2011 saw the country managing challenges, the year 2012 required managing challenges for security stability. This became the key strategic policy objective,Dr. Jayasundera said.

To substantiate his assertion that stability was secured, the Finance Secretary highlighted some key statistics. They included investment to GDP ratio of 30 percent, containing the budget deficit at 6.4 percent of GDP and a debt to GDP ratio of 79.1 percent , he said.

“Additionally foreign reserves were boosted to $ 7.1 billion whilst inflation was contained at 8%, thereby marking four successive years of single digit inflation, reducing unemployment to 4 percent and poverty reduced to 6.5 percent,” he added.

Therefore, the government has given a lot of prominence to improve the service sector including IT sector and related businesses achieve US $ 2.5 billion and also a lot of attention to improve research and development and technical skills of the youth to make Sri Lanka a hub in the region, he added.

Secretary Ministry of Industry and Commerce Anura Siriwardena said the Chamber exclusively serves the exporters in the country and he is committed to work closely with all relevant stakeholders to achieve targets.