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Sunday, 16 August 2009

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‘Focus on niche markets need of the hour’

The need for the export sector to focus on certain Key areas such as niche markets and high end value added products, particularly where Sri Lanka has a competitive and comparative advantage as well as greater attention to expand the export of Services where there is potential for Sri Lanka to grow is needed, said Chairperson Exporters Association Nirmalie Samaratunga at the AGM of the Exporters Association.

Nirmalie Samaratunga

She said that IT and the Software Sector including Business Process Outsourcing is one sector that has performed well despite the global downturn. Sri Lanka is now among the top ten countries in the world and therefore rather than trying to compete with India and similar players at the lower end of the market, the strategy should be, to identify the niche markets where the country has strengths, and move towards Knowledge Process Outsourcing, and concentrate on developing the areas such as accountancy and healthcare. This is also a sector which has one of the highest value addition, whilst having the potential to become a Billion Dollar Industry for Sri Lanka.

Another key area to be developed is the agro industry, where Sri Lanka needs to focus on indigenous crops with export potential such as passion fruit, pineapple, banana and mango, where Sri Lanka has a comparative advantage, and a growing market overseas. In this field, Sri Lankan Exporters can enter into partnerships with rural farmers, and make maximum use of these opportunities.

There is a growing demand for Organic Agricultural Products therefore it needs to be developed as this Sector can be a significant player in global markets.

Looking more closely at our Regional Markets is another strategy. Despite the Global downturn and recession in our traditional markets of Europe, USA and Japan, we have two giants, India and China whose economies, seem to be showing greater resilience and are recovering much faster than the rest of the world. It is necessary for our exporters to concentrate on these markets and exploit them, as it will enable the Sector to minimize the impact of the global economic recession.

Potential in the newly liberated areas of the country also should be explored- With the North and East opening up, there is tremendous scope for the fishing and agriculture industry to make a significant impact on the Export Sector. Exporters need to position themselves immediately to maximize on this new opportunity, with emphasis on developing our non-traditional agricultural exports.

Meanwhile Branding and Value Addition should continue as a priority. There should be value addition for traditional exports such as tea, rubber, coconut based products, spices as well as fruits, flowers, vegetables, sea food and gems as the way forward is through value addition and building Sri Lankan brands wherever possible.

She said, that as the apex body representing over 1,000 Exporters through direct and indirect membership, who contribute to cover 80% of the total exports in the country, the Exporters Association has been actively addressing some of the issues with the Institutions concerned. Issues requiring attention include, the continuing problem of obtaining outstanding VAT refunds, the need for greater ease of doing business at Customs and Port, expediting Public Entities to position themselves by simplifying procedures and business re-engineering to cater to electronic transacting and electronic data interchange, and the need for on line payment facilities with Government agencies to be made effective.

 

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