Sri Lanka agri-exporters asked to justify blocking imports

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan agricultural product exporters have been asked to justify their opposition to proposals to allow imports of tea and other spices for re-export with the aim of promoting entrepot trade and increasing earnings.

“There are different views on allowing imports for re-export after blending,” said Harsha De Silva, former deputy minister of policy planning who has returned to parliament as a newly elected ruling party member.

The new government aims to improve the island’s export competitiveness and remove obstacles to exports, he told the annual general meeting of the Spices and Allied Products Producers and Traders Association (SAPPTA).

The association and Sri Lanka’s tea industry has opposed plans to open up imports of tea and other spices for blending and value addition and re-export, fearing the move could damage the reputation of the island’s main agricultural exports.

But De Silva said SAPPTA should study the proposals more thoroughly and justify their opposition in a professional manner. 

“I would like SAPPTA to send a proper technical paper on why we should block it,” he told the meeting.

“Tradeables are the things you compete with, with the rest of the world,” De Silva said. “For a country to really become competitive we must put more focus on the tradeables sector.

“But in the last so many years the focus has been on non-tradeables like construction and real estate. Sri Lanka’s competitiveness has fallen over the last so many years. The new government aims to make Sri Lanka’s economy the most competitive economy in this part of the world.”  (Colombo/August 26 2015)
 

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