NCE urges government to resurrect EDC
The National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka, in a statement urged the relevant authorities to resurrect the Export Development Council (EDC) currently headed by the President to address the prevailing issues faced by the exporters of this country.
Sri Lankan Export Development Act of 1979 provides for an Export Development Council of Ministers, including the subjects of Trade, Shipping Industries, Agriculture and Finance. EDC was convened, after a lapse of 28 years, under the patronage of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa during 2020 but since then no single meeting has taken place to date. The main objective of the EDC is to resolve prevailing issues in the export sector by strengthening exporters. The Council is entrusted with the responsibility of policy formulation and issue approvals and recommendations.
According to the Act, the President of Sri Lanka is the Chairman of the Council and during the meeting that was held in September 2020, it was agreed to convene the Council once a month to review future activities and to resolve current issues in the sector. During the meeting the President emphasized the responsibility delegated to the Export Development Council to seek new market opportunities for exporters and elaborated on the necessity of diversifying the export sector to cater to different demands of different countries.
Some of the issues that were discussed during the September 2022 meeting were areas of concern as raised by many exporters such as the trade agreements signed in the past that are not favorable to Sri Lanka and the need to review these agreements immediately to bring more benefits to the country, the requirement of revising and modernizing the National Trade Policy expeditiously to address the issues in the export sector and to ensure its progress.
The establishment of export production villages in order to promote primary products of farmers in line with export market requirements was also discussed. Further it was discussed that High Commissioners and Ambassadors representing Sri Lanka in other countries vigorously promote domestic products in the global market and to attract more investors and also to set targets for everyone to achieve in the future and the need to improve the efficiency of trade promotion officers in foreign missions. Sri Lanka’s export industry has called on the Government several times to resort to course correction on the multiple internal crises of forex, fuel and power to save the only steady inflow of the $ 15 billion annual export revenue to the country. The National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka (NCE) also highlighted the multiple impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict that has begun to affect trade flows.
Furthermore, with the ongoing high costs of raw materials, freight charges, lack of containers and lesser shipments, the internal issues such as the power outages and fuel shortages have severely impacted the entire manufacturing operations.
It is to be highlighted that exports is the only sector that generates steady inflow of foreign exchange to the economy, and exporters are currently facing numerous challenges due to the above issues which heavily disturb the business processes.
“We as a Chamber representing Sri Lankan exporters strongly believe that resurrecting the EDC with monthly meetings with the engagement of Chambers to discuss the ground level situation faced by the Exporters and possibly to evaluate immediate solutions will be highly beneficial and appreciated by the Exporters community.”