ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s government is working on a trade facilitation platform that will simplify processes and reduce costs and time for exporters and importers, Minister of Finance and Mass Media Mangala Samaraweera said.
“In order to realize Sri Lanka’s ambitions to become an Indian Ocean trading hub, it is essential that we streamline our trade processes to ensure efficiency, transparency, and integrity in a rule based environment,” he said.
With the support of development partners, including Australia, Sri Lanka is in the process of implementing a ‘National Single Window’ for trade facilitation, Samaraweera told a conference on the application of technology in enhancing Sri Lanka’s trade facilitation process.
The platform would enable traders to fulfill all necessary procedures under one roof, he said.
“This would make Sri Lanka a truly attractive destination for efficiency seeking export oriented FDI.”
The future of trade facilitation is in the application of modern technology, Samaraweera told the conference on “Applying New Technology to Make Sri Lanka’s International Trade More Efficient and Inclusive” in which there were sessions on Blockchain technology.
Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize trade finance by drastically cutting down the time taken for transactions, reduce the costs of intermediation, whilst ensuring security and process integrity, Samaraweera said.
“Blockchain will no doubt disrupt traditional trade finance and can be a major boost for trade. Early movers will have a significant advantage – and I am confident that Sri Lanka’s financial sector is taking the message on board.
“The implications of such technology go beyond private traders, and have important potential benefits for border agencies,” Samaraweera said.
“Blockchain technology can enable Customs to audit supply chains in real time, trace the provenance of suspicious transactions, and identify problematic cargo in advance.”
The application of cutting edge technology in key Sri Lankan institutions is a major focus of the Finance Ministry.
“We have this year commenced the implementation of RAMIS at the Inland Revenue Department which has already yielded good results in terms of revenue administration and collection efficiency,” Samaraweera said.
“We will look at similar applications at the Departments of Excise and Customs as well. Initial steps have been taken by enabling electronic payments at Customs and automated scanning technology. I am very keen to see Sri Lanka’s Customs step up its role as a trade facilitation agency, whilst of course ensuring a healthy contribution to our treasury coffers.”
(COLOMBO, October 30, 2017)