NCE invites the exporters to expand their supplier base by sourcing from North
NCE and ILO work towards joining North with South, for economic development of the Northern communities to strengthen the reconciliation process.
The Local Empowerment through Economic Development (LEED) Project, which has been in operation in the Northern Province since 2011, is an initiative of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) funded by Australian government. The project has gained recognition with government as well as producers and manufacturers in the province, through its business development initiativesfor stimulating successful local economic development.The new business model has created many opportunities for communities in the North, and has been proven to be one of the best models in promoting and sustaining growth in agriculture, fisheries and manufacturing.
The economic recovery phase in the north has been constrained by low capacity and micro nature of the industrial sector, and limited capacity for value addition to create sustainable business entities. Hitherto the North has been a supplier of raw material that is processed elsewhere in the South to add value. This inequality in trade and business relations has contributed to a negative perception in the minds of the people in the North, affecting the peace and reconciliation process as well.
In this background, and the implications of the existing model for business development and trade relationships, the ILO LEED Project commenced a pilot project related to a new business model covering four sectors viz paddy cultivation, agricultural products (Fruits and Vegetables), Fisheries, and Construction,to promote meaningful partnerships between the business entities in the North and the South. The objective of this approach was to create more income earning opportunities for the vulnerable communities in the North, through backward and forward business and market linkages.
In 2013 the LEED Project contacted the National Chamber of Exporters (NCE)- The only private sector Chamber which exclusively supports Sri Lankan Exporters with a view to establishing meaningful business relationships between the producers and manufacturers in the Northern Region, and exporters in the South.
Following initial assessments, the NCE successfully organized a 10 member business delegation from among its member companies to visit the Northern Region covering the Vavuniya, Kilinochchi, Mulaitivu and Jaffna Districts, to explore business opportunities in the agriculture and fisheries sector. The visit was facilitated by the office of the LEED project in Kilinochchi, and supported by the Chambers of Commerce and Industry in the Kilinochchi and Mulaitivu districts. Members of the delegation held discussions with the relevant state officials, and also visited relevant producer and manufacturing groups. Although this visit was intended to be only of an exploratory nature the outcomes were beyond expectations, resulting in the successful establishment of firm business linkages. Three member companies of the NCE are already engaged in business activities with producers and manufacturers in the North in the Agriculture sector (Fruits and Vegetables and Fibre sub sectors) and in Boat building in the fisheries sector.
Export orders have already been placed for fruits and vegetables, and suppliers have been able to benefit through the provision of regular supplies for processing, and export.
With a view to building on the successes achieved so far the ILO office in Sri Lanka and the NCE entered into a Formal Agreement to support a range of business development activities through part funding, with a budget of over Rs. 2 million covering activities that will be implemented during this year under the agreement.
This agreement has the following objectives:
- Promote and develop partnerships between the members of the NCE and producers in the North to ensure secure markets for their Agriculture and Fisheries products, while also ensuring value addition to the suppliesat source to the maximum extent possible.
- To provide capacity building services to existing and potential exporters in the North to function as direct exporters.
- Provide advisory support, and technical assistance related to export procedures, logistics and training on management issues for the relevant enterprises with export potential, and organizations in the North.
- Develop strong institutional, trade, and business relations between the North and South, in order to establish a sustainable mechanism of dialogue, and platform for discussions.
- Organize business delegations and facilitate exchange of business interests of the partners from the south and north.
- Engage in following-up on the business contacts thathave already beenwill be established, by the member exporters in the delegations that visit the North.