Sri Lanka holds symposium for development of National Export Strategy

11 April 2017
ITC News
Public and private sectors meet to explore how to boost Sri Lankan exports and strengthen competitiveness.

Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade and the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) on 6 April conducted the first national symposium for a National Export Strategy (NES). More than 150 representatives from the public and private sectors attended the event in Colombo, which sought to chart the next export growth cycle of the country.

The development of a National Export Strategy is a central component of the ‘EU – Sri Lanka Trade-Related Assistance: Increasing SMEs' Trade Competitiveness in Regional and EU Markets’ project, which is funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC).

The symposium marked the launch of the design process for the National Export Strategy and provided a platform for public and private stakeholders to discuss their strategic vision for Sri Lanka’s export growth. The two days of consultation will confirm the export performance diagnostics and define the main strategic orientations for the Strategy, including priority sectors and the selection of trade support functions. Following this initial event, additional meetings will be held in Colombo and regional provinces to define specific sector-level actions plans.

Strengthening competitiveness

The National Export Strategy will support Sri Lanka’s economic vision of strengthening the competitiveness of the country’s private sector to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth. The consultative process will lead public sector institutions and private sector enterprises to design a common and agreed plan for growing and diversifying Sri Lanka’s export products and reaching new target destinations. The Strategy will focus on several priority sectors and key trade support functions. These will be selected based on a quantitative and qualitative analysis of Sri Lanka’s export competitiveness to ensure an emphasis on those sectors that will provide the greatest potential benefit to country.

The Government of Sri Lanka through the economic policy statement of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, made in Parliament on 27 October 27, emphasized that new strategies are required to undertake necessary reforms to increase, diversify and introduce innovation in exports development, aimed at increasing revenue, creating employment and reducing the country’s trade deficit.

Malik Devapriya Samarawickrama, Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, said: ‘Sri Lanka is embarking on an ambitious set of economic changes, where innovation and entrepreneurship will be key drivers of export competitiveness for economic growth.

‘The country’s policy seeks to re-balance its economic growth model to be more outward oriented, private sector – led, knowledge intensive, and one that will successfully develop and make available higher value goods and services. The NES will place specific focus on ensuring these priorities are implemented rapidly by the relevant public and private institutions at sector and regional levels, and in close coordination with development partners.’

Sujeewa Senasinghe, State Minister of International Trade, said: ‘Sri Lanka has become a rapidly emerging growth centre in Asia in the current international economic context, with one of the most vibrant and dynamic economies in the South Asian Region. Liberal market-oriented policies have accelerated the development process and opened new vistas for investment and business opportunities in the country. The government’s approach is based on the principle that the public sector facilitates the development of the export sector engaging the private sector in strong public private dialogues, while at the same time encouraging the private sector to own and drive the export sector. As the navigator having a direct and a considerable bearing on the success of the NES process, I believe that the Strategy will serve as a roadmap to increase exports and value creation while linking our economy into global value chains, thus ensuring sustainable development with greater prosperity for the people of Sri Lanka.’

Indira Malwatte, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of EDB said: ‘The steady advancement of worldwide market demands for more specialised products, evolving supply conditions and emergence of modern technology, highlights the significance of developing a strategic vision for export development.

‘The Government of Sri Lanka has embarked on developing and promoting exports of the country, giving it the highest priority, to increase and consolidate foreign exchange earnings, which will create new employment, build skills and capacities and attract export driven investments which will result in enhanced economic and social benefits and improved life styles for all Sri Lankans. The NES initiative will support Sri Lanka’s economic vision of strengthening public private dialogue and partnering with the nation's private sector, to achieve the country's economic objectives and goals.’

Harin de Silva, Chairman of the Exporter Association of Sri Lanka, said: ‘The EASL has continuously campaigned for greater engagement between Government and private sector. We fully support the endeavor of developing and implementing a NES for Sri Lanka. We look forward to building a durable public-private coordination to drive export growth and for the successful implementation of the NES, which will also be driven directly by private sector inputs.’

Tung-Lai Margue, Ambassador of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, said: ‘Sri Lanka has been identified as a “Market of the Future” by Euromonitor and as a key trade partner in South East Asia. The National Export Strategy will help strengthen Sri Lanka’s ability to maximize the benefits of greater trade exposure in regional and EU markets. The EU – Sri Lanka Trade-Related Assistance aims to boost the country's trade competitiveness, while also contributing to socio-economic development.’


The “EU – Sri Lanka Trade-Related Assistance: Increasing SMEs' Trade Competitiveness in Regional and EU Markets” project will be implemented over a period of four years by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in collaboration with the Sri Lankan Department of Commerce and other key institutions in Sri Lanka. The objective of the project is to increase trade competitiveness of Sri Lankan SMEs in regional and EU markets and support Sri Lanka’s inclusive trade-led growth and regional integration, thereby contributing to poverty alleviation.