Lanka not ready yet for CEPA - Rohantha Athukorala
By Surekha GALAGODA
Sri Lanka’s knowledge economy is not developed, therefore we are not
yet ready for the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA),
said Rohantha Athukorala. He was addressing a seminar organised
concurrent to the ProFood Propack exhibition in Colombo last week.
He said that our country has developed very little as our companies
have not linked with universities to develop the research capabilities
and benefit from each other.
An exceptional example of a company linking with a university is
Dialog and the University of Moratuwa.
Dialog within 10 years has developed to be the best brand and it has
been achieved through innovation. He said as at end March most
well-known brands have recorded growth in their sales which shows that
Sri Lankan companies are resilient but the hard fact is that the low end
of the customers are moving out of the brand. In the milk powder market,
the percentage of people moving out is 20%. The people who were using
toothpaste are moving to tooth powder.
Therefore, the challenge faced by the food sector is to identify the
consumer and cater to their needs. The country must have nation branding
and the diaspora must be used to drive business.
Sri Lanka exports fine porcelain items all over the world and even in
Hollywood the food is served on Dankotuwa porcelain ware.
Sri Lanka exports processed food to India and it is factual that
there are non - tariff barriers but the food sector clearly needs to
look at India and also explore avenues of investing in the East as CIC
and Hayleys have already done it, as there is much potential in these
Sri Lanka may be totally underdeveloped but we are the cleanest
country and Sri Lanka is the only country that produces ozone friendly
tea which is ethically made. The country should capitalise on these
factors and showcase and position the country on a firm footing
As regards advertising, he said that the advertising budget is Rs 24
bln and 700 advertisements are seen by consumers daily.
Therefore, if you want your product to succeed-understand the
customer first and develop long term relationships.
In addition always have a clear and consistent message, a clear
promise, get a young team behind the brand, understand ground reality
and have a 100% honest brand.
Athukorala said that when good times are there launch new brands and
increase sales as it won’t last long.