Sri Lanka has been experiencing a declining trend in exports for the last three years. What’s more, the country’s export basket continues to concentrate on a limited number of products and to limited markets. In 2015, Sri Lanka’s top three export products tea, textiles and garments, and rubber accounted for around 66 per cent of the country’s total exports. The United States of America and the European Union, collectively accounted for around 56 per cent of Sri Lanka’s total exports.
To help the country diversify its products and markets for exports, the Commonwealth Secretariat has produced its research findings “New Products New Markets”. The findings have been shared with the Export Development Board of Sri Lanka (EDB), exporters and other stakeholders. Our analysis identified 40 new products and 15 new markets with 116 product-market combinations. Together these can give Sri Lanka a potential market access of US$2 billion in the new areas that have been identified.
Not only that, the Secretariat has also identified 30 new markets for existing exports. These new market opportunities include countries like Turkey, Mexico, Vietnam, Bermuda, Chile and Sweden.
More than 100 large and small Sri Lankan exporters attended the meeting, organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat in collaboration with the EDB. They endorsed the methodology and results of the analysis.
“This has been an extremely important exercise for Sri Lanka and other development agencies,” said Saman Kelegama, Managing Director, Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade. “Most of the exports of Sri Lanka can be duplicated by neighbouring countries which makes diversification of exports important.”
Indira Malwatte, chairperson of Export Development Board appreciated the analysis undertaken by the Secretariat. She emphasised, “The comprehensive analysis conducted by Commonwealth Secretariat on new products and new markets is valuable to the government of Sri Lanka in developing its new export diversification strategy”.
The Head of the Secretariat’s Trade and Competitiveness section, Dr Rashmi Banga said, “We’re providing technical assistance on export diversification for many countries including Pakistan, Lesotho, Jamaica and St Kitts and Nevis. Not only that, we’re also providing technical assistance to the Department of Commerce in Sri Lanka in their free trade agreement negotiations with India, China and Singapore.”
The recently launched India-Commonwealth SME Association opened its membership for the first time in Sri Lanka today (27 October). The Association will provide a sustainable platform to Sri Lankan firms to connect with Indian firms as well as other businesses in Commonwealth countries. This will help Sri Lanka to diversify its exports and link into those involved in the production of goods and services – the global value chains – of countries like India and UK.