Colombo, May 3 (NIA) – Sri Lanka’s largest business community, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) on Wednesday called upon the government to address labour shortages and fast-track approvals and certifications to support sectors capable of expanding their exports to the EU.
Following the recent EU parliament’s decision to vote in favour of granting Sri Lanka the GSP plus scheme, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce said granting of these key EU trade concessions once again will have a significant positive impact on the country’s exports to the European Union.
However it called upon the government to launch a targeted and accelerated programme to support export sectors and this can range from funds for technology upgrading and innovation; targeted support for market development; addressing labour shortages; and fast-tracking approvals and certifications.
“The government’s trade and export agencies, together with the exporter community, can collectively embark on a focused competitiveness programme, using the GSP Plus period as ‘breathing space’ rather than a ‘comfort zone’,” the CCC said in a statement.
“Since the country approaches ‘Upper Middle Income’ status and will thereafter not be eligible for GSP Plus, building export competitiveness beyond the GSP Plus concession is crucial,” it added.
The Chamber further said the granting of GSP plus comes at a good time for the country as overall exports have been flagging and has affected the country’s external payments position.
It said regaining of GSP Plus at this time is welcome also because EU economies are showing signs of economic recovery, which would hopefully improve demand condition in key European markets.
“Apparels, fresh and processed food products, seafood, toys, ceramics and porcelain, are some of the sectors that will benefit from the additional tariff concession under GSP Plus,” the CCC said.
Given that most orders have already been finalized for the year 2017, the real boost is likely to be seen from 2018. Nevertheless, several Chamber member companies noted that they are already in contact with EU buyers who are keen to place new orders as soon as the GSP Plus is reinstated for Sri Lanka, the Chamber further said.
The EU parliament recently voted in favour of granting Sri Lanka the GSP plus once again after it was withdrawn from the island country in 2010, over the previous government’s failure to address rights issues.
The European Union will make a final decision in May if Sri Lanka is duly entitled, or not, to be granted GSP plus.