ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday October 7, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 19
Financial Times  

Business leader calls for a good policy framework for tea

The 33rd Annual General Meeting of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) saw a business leader advocating a good policy framework for the major export crop – tea - to help stabilise the tea industry and avoid challenges in the international market.

“The establishment of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Tariff has been able to bring about a high degree of stability in the international prices regime of tea, rubber and coconut,” Nawaz Rajabdeen, the incumbent President who was re-elected the President for 2007/2008, for a third consecutive year, said.

He said that despite the setbacks created by the energy costs, the performances in the business sector, specially the service and industrial sectors has been a source of encouragement to the entire country.

He stressed the importance of monitoring of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with India and Pakistan. “India presents a glowing picture of growth, but Sri Lanka needs to look at it closely in terms of exports, so as to examine the reciprocity which should be one of the main features of an FTA,” he said.

Speaking on the economy of the country, Rajabdeen said that when examining the macro factors Sri Lanka’s ability to sustain development stands out. “The growth rate of 7.4 percent and per capita income of US $ 1,350 and also the decline in unemployment rate to 6.5 percent speaks volumes for the basic strength of Sri Lanka’s economy,” he said adding however that there are quite a number of external factors that once again seriously affected the economy and negated the positive gains achieved.

He said the rise in petroleum prices to nearly US $ 80 per barrel is a major concern and also impacted adversely on a host of economic factors domestically with a heavy blow to the cost of living.

He felt that both government and the opposition must form a strong alliance with the private sector by shedding petty political agendas and move forward with a collective effort as the country is going through difficult economic and business times.


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