The Export Development Board (EDB) and the Foreign Ministry are working closely together to increase the country’s export revenue and mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the export industry.
Sri Lanka’s export income which stood at US$ 277 Mn in April 2020 has increased to US$ 1,090 Mn in July 2020 and is projected to grow in the coming months. There are several joint initiatives taken by the EDB and the Foreign Ministry to enhance exports. This includes identifying new market opportunities, creating awareness by disseminating market alerts, addressing supply chain issues, enhancing capacity building through webinars, and creating business linkages to support existing exporters to sustain their exports.
During the COVID-19 lockdown which began in late March, Sri Lanka’s Missions and Posts overseas continued to share updates and developments relevant to the markets they covered. These updates included available market opportunities as well as changes to trade and policy regulations during the pandemic which enabled Sri Lanka’s exporters to adapt accordingly. The functioning of this mechanism also enabled Sri Lanka’s exporters to share their supply capability information with buyers swiftly, via the Foreign Ministry and its network of overseas Missions. The export opportunities that were identified and made use of in this manner related in particular to face masks, protective gowns, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), rubber gloves, hand sanitizers, tea and food products. EDB being the facilitator for Sri Lankan exporters made efficient arrangements to circulate market updates rapidly among exporters via email and its website, and made use of IT based solutions to connect exporters and importers by organizing a series of webinars in collaboration with foreign trade chambers with the assistance of Sri Lanka’s Missions overseas.
Although lockdowns are easing in several countries including Sri Lanka, the EDB and the Foreign Ministry continue to collaborate with the assistance and support of the network of Sri Lanka Missions overseas to connect buyers and sellers virtually, assessing and responding to market trends. Virtual trade fairs and displays in year-long virtual shopping malls are being considered as alternative ways to physical trade fairs to link exporters with potential overseas buyers.
Webinars were organized so far for the Electrical & Electronics, ICT/BPM, Printing, Boat & Ship Building, Coconut, Ceramic and Porcelain, Logistics and Supply Chain, Marine and Offshore Engineering and Ayurveda and Herbal products sectors which will eventually resulted in virtual Business to Business (B2B) meetings.
With the objective of assisting SMEs in Sri Lanka under the concept of “One Village One Product” (OVOP), EDB and the Foreign Ministry are coordinating with Sri Lanka Missions overseas on attracting investments from migrated Sri Lankans living abroad.
While these measures are being pursued to overcome the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Sri Lanka’s economy, and achieve the revised export target of US$ 10.75 Bn in 2020, further steps will be taken to work closely with other relevant local partners as well as partner nations and organizations to explore new opportunities and utilization of technology to achieve the Government’s economic objectives.