The trade cell of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), with the objective of enhancing awareness of various trade agreements between Sri Lanka and other countries, has compiled a simple, basic guide for traders on concessions available under trade agreements. This will help them understand the technical terms used in trade agreements, as well as how to read and understand an agreement, the chamber said in a statement.
“Further it has summarized concessions available under each agreement and gives useful website links to get more information on trade related matters. This simple guide is available for purchase at the Chamber and along with it traders receive a complementary CD, containing copies of all the trade agreements with lists of products which are eligible for concessions,” the statement added.
It said that Sri Lanka is currently a member country of two bilateral free trade agreements; one with India and the other with Pakistan. In addition to that Sri Lanka is also a member of two regional trade agreements; South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) and Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA). Sri Lanka is a beneficiary country of unilateral preferences granted by a number of developed countries such as the European Union and the United States generally known as GSP (Generalized System of Preferences). “Unfortunately, it is widely acknowledged that Sri Lankan traders still do not make the best use of the concessions available. The general feeling is that there is plenty of scope to improve utilization of these concessions by traders. Sri Lanka being a relatively high cost manufacturing destination, exporting under preferential tariffs will help improve cost competitiveness of Sri Lanka.
One reason for poor utilization of concessions is identified to be lack of awareness of the concessions available, the rules to meet and procedures to follow in obtaining these concessions. Although the trade agreements are available online, most traders still find it difficult to read and understand the eligibility criteria,” the chamber said, explaining the reason for guide-book.
Sri Lanka has lost the GSP+ duty-free concessions to the EU but has access to GSP concessions which come with a reduced duty component for a range of products.