While Sri Lanka is clamouring to achieve international trade and financial hub status, increase the number of FDIs and achieve an export target of US$20 billion by 2025, the challenges are enormous since the cost of exporting products is high.
According to the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index of 2014, the average cost of exporting for countries like Vietnam or Thailand was half that of Sri Lanka.
These facts were revealed by Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough, Sri Lanka Country Representative - World Bank, while addressing a 2-day conference ‘Tech for Trade’ on applying new technologies to make Sri Lanka’s international trade more efficient and inclusive on Monday in Colombo.
She said that to export from Sri Lanka it takes two days on average whereas the two countries referred above take only one day. There should be simplified regulatory framework governing trade and updating the Customs Ordinance and there should be clear transparent border management to create investor confidence.
“It is critical to reduce the trade process cost paid by the trading community and our team has found that there are 22 agents involving the issuing of regulations and approvals affecting trade,” Ms. Pswarayi-Riddihough commented and said that streamlining approval process and enhancing communications between government agencies and the private sector to increase efficiency is vital.
She said that it is vital to create an investor-friendly environment that would benefit the trading community that would create formal employment opportunities with higher income. In overcoming the barriers for trade and exports, she said that there should be simplified regulatory framework affecting trade and called on the authorities to reduce the number of institutions interfacing traders and streamline the approval process and enhance communications between government agencies and the private sector to increase efficiency.
The conference was hosted by the Australian High Commission in partnership with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce to showcase a range of technologies that can make trade more efficient. (QP)
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