Exporters face challenges despite GSP plus

Local exporters say they are facing many challenges and are unable to reap the benefits of the much awaited GSP plus scheme from the European Union (EU).

Speaking on the current status of the country’s export revenue after we have been granted GSP Plus, the Chairman of the Exporter’s Association of Sri Lanka (EASL), Harin de Silva stressed that while sectors such as apparel and sea food will benefit almost immediately, there are barricades facing the other sectors preventing them from being able to make use of GSP Plus.

Sri Lanka has already been urged by the EU to consider expanding its existing export basket without limiting it to the range of traditional export items.

“Local non-tariff barriers (recently highlighted by other institutions), high cost of electricity, lack of access to the global supply chain, inconsistent policy are just some of the few factors that makes Sri Lankan exports uncompetitive and thereby taking away the benefits that could have been gained by Sri Lankan exporters through GSP Plus,” Harin de Silva told The Sunday Leader.

The EASL has published a strategy document in 2016 and a second document in 2017 highlighting the issues faced by exporters to increase the export basket in value and volume, strongly advocating the government to give high priority in developing the competitiveness of exports.

Strategy document known as National Exports Development Strategy (NEDEVS) explores the importance of consistency in policy which is vital to attract new investments. Further, macroeconomic policies and other related policies should be aligned to export development.

“We have the utmost confidence in the newly appointed foreign minister to carry this further to achieve the desired results.As far as the EASL is concerned, we are extremely grateful for the Prime Minister’s personal interventions and Dr. Harsha de Silva’s persistence andthe government in bringing back GSP+ to the Sri Lankan export community,” he opined.