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Sunday, 29 June 2014

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EDB goes for Fair Trade certification

As Fair Trade becomes the latest sales driver in international markets, Sri Lanka has stepped up its efforts to meet the new standard.

A promising Lankan export niche has become the successful testing ground for Sri Lanka's entry into the global Fair Trade certification regime - and the Export Development Board (EDB), which leads the initiative has received encouraging feedback from many - including a global consultant on Fair Trade.

"I am impressed by Sri Lanka's craft makers and exporters. Their products are of high quality," said the visiting USAID-VEGA Fair Trade expert, Paul Myers, at the conclusion of a three-week visit to assist EDB's first Fair Trade initiative, at the EDB office recently.

The first ever national initiative on Fair Trade in the country, the program aims at introducing and implementing Fair Trade concepts for the craft sector in Sri Lanka for two to three years. The first stage of the three-stage program concluded in 2013.

Nine firms, Midaya Ceramic, Kandygs Handlooms, Island Craft, Suntex Weaving Industries, Earth Bound Creations, Trickledown, Maximus, Selective Designs, and Pung Craft, clinched EDB's support to apply for Fair Trade certification.

The Fair Trade Certification has been identified as one of the tools for the sustainable economic development of the world and defined as an alternative approach for conventional international trade.

The Fair Trade certification mark now appears in thousands of products in international markets and in Germany, where more and more consumers insist on fair trade certifications, revenue from such products increased by 22% in 2013. In UK, Fair Trade products saw a 19% increase in sales in 2012.

"I visited several craft makers in Sri Lanka including some handloom makers. I was impressed by the craft makers and exporters I met. Their products are of high quality and on a par with international standards. The preparatory work on Fair Trade of most companies in this project has been encouraging," Myers said.

According to EDB sources, the lifestyle and craft exports that stood at $ 78 million in 2011, has increased to $ 97.3 million, a 25% growth. The EDB believes this niche export sector to be promising when it comes to the premium end of global accessories and lifestyle markets.

The craft sector in Sri Lanka is mainly a cottage-based industry and comprised small and medium entrepreneurs. The crafts of Sri Lanka are a combination of traditional skills and modern technology.

This industry directly contributes to social development in rural communities and assists them to earn a better income and more importantly, is instrumental in absorbing rural talent to the export mainstream.

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