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Protectionism not sustainable, Sri Lanka ceramic industry told

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s ceramic industry, especially the highly protected tile sector, should have an industry strategy on how they want to go in the future rather than relying on government protection, a forum was told.

Sriyan de Silva Wijeyeratne, chief executive of Teejay Lanka, a fabric maker for the apparel industry, said ceramic producers should think of breaking into new markets, new customer segments and look for new ways to use products.

“I’m not a believer of an industry which is existing on too much of government protection,” he told the Sri Lanka Ceramic & Glass Symposium 2018, organized by the Sri Lanka Ceramic & Glass Council, an affiliated trade body of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

The island’s ceramic industry was a medium sized industry with about 10% of output exported.

But the industry was too heavily protected, de Silva Wijeyeratne.

Tariff of 90% on imports was fairly high with the using dumping arguments and how compete with China, he said.
“If you’re future strategy depends on government protecting you, that should not be the formula for the future,” de Silva Wijeyeratne said.

“If the government of the day falls or they don’t like your face, there could be a problem – we’ve seen that before.”

De Silva Wijeyeratne said the ceramic industry should have a 10 year plan on how to progress, like how exporters of apparel, the island’s main industrial export, did.

“Like the appael industry –which today is not asking for 200% duty on Levis so someone can make jeans here. We are chasing a higher value export industry.

“The industry needs to have a consistent view – don’t ask for protection either and scream of protection in foreign markets.”
(COLOMBO, March 16, 2018)





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