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Don’t let fruit exports rot in foreign ports, Sri Lanka trade officials told

ECONOMYNEXT –Sri Lanka’s new Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs has warned export promotion agencies to not let shipments of food by exporters rot in foreign ports because of red tape.

Harsha De Silva, an economist, said he had been told by exporters that despite a plethora of trade deals between Sri Lanka and other countries, shipments are often held up by non-tarif barriers.

Government agencies need to get their act together and do what’s necessary to promote the island’s exports whose share of total economic output had fallen steadily in recent years, he said.

“What matters is the outcome – whether fruit and vegetable exporters are able to clear fruits from some port in India before they get spoilt,” he told a forum at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce on economic diplomacy and winning global markets.

“I hear at times even though we have signed multiple (trade) agreements, what’s the point, if untimately exporters are not able to export their bananas or strawberries?”

Mututal recognition agreements with overseas trade agencies were needed to ensure Sri Lankan certification and paperwork was accepted so that shipments are not held up at foreign ports, De Silva said.

“If our fruit certification is not accepted in Chennai, you got to do something about it,” he told officers from the Export Development Board and Commerce Department present at the forum.

“We ought to ensure we are able to cut through red tape and enter into ageements that matter, clear out problems we have and make it work.” (Colombo/October 06 2015)

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