ESCAP to support new development phase in Lanka
The new Government has brought fresh hopes to all Sri Lankans. ESCAP
is ready to help Sri Lanka, Director, Trade and Investment Division,
ESCAP, Dr Ravi Ratnayake told Industry and Commerce Minister Richard
Bathiudeen when he met the Minister in Colombo last week.
“The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the
Pacific (ESCAP), is the regional development arm of the United Nations
for the Asia-Pacific where two-thirds of the world's population live.
ESCAP is the most comprehensive of the United Nations five regional
commissions," said ESCAP Director Dr Ratnayake, who was once an Economic
lecturer with New Zealand's Auckland University.
"Sri Lankans need to be careful and not throw the baby along with the
bathwater. The Government should fully abandon certain economic
development concepts and projects launched by the previous regime
overnight - infrastructure projects and the concept of five hubs and
tourism strategy are examples.
"Sri Lanka's hub positioning is a great strategic asset and all
‘five’ hubs in the previous strategy need not be considered. At least
three of them - commercial, knowledge and maritime - still hold promise
and, therefore, could be leveraged in some way by the new economic
"There was strong emphasis on infrastructure development during the
past few years which was the fulfilling of a need but the process could
have been more inclusive of the other relevant stakeholders, transparent
and the projects directly linked to economic activities so that the
masses would benefit.
"ESCAP is ready to help Sri Lanka in its new phase. We can help to
build capacity in internal logistics, trade negotiations, and time and
cost saving national single window for exports.
"For example, Singapore's new single window has reduced trade
processing time from seven days to less than 15 minutes. At present, Sri
Lanka qualifies well for our support but the call needs to be officially
made to us so that we can extend assistance.
"We also strongly suggest Sri Lanka launch Business Process Analysis
(BPA) across the export sectors and map the value chains, for which
ESCAP can lend its support.
If BPA already done for certain sectors, they need to be promptly
updated. The BPAs cover the entire process - from farm-gate to the ship
"It needs to be supported by the ruling government-political will is
critical here. The value addition to exports by a BPA, on average, is
four-to five percent but often could go as high as 15% and above. The
gains for global GDP from new trade transparency in Asia Pacific could
be as high as $500 billion,” he said.
Minister Bathiudeen said, “Export increase and recovering GSP plus
are key aims of the 100-day program. I welcome institutional level
support from ESCAP to increase our export targets. The EDB has been
already partnering with Geneva based International Trade Centre (ITC) in
formulating our national export strategy and vision - and the process is
already under way."
"ESCAP's BPA too could be useful in strengthening this effort further
at a time when we focus on diversification of our product basket and
destinations as well,” he said.
ESCAP Director Dr Ratnayake said, “ESCAP too has been working closely
with ITC in many aspects and I am pleased to hear that Geneva's ITC is
partnering with EDB and your Ministry.".