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The National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka (NCE) which is the only private sector Chamber exclusively serving Sri Lankan exporters, has identified the importance of dissemination of information related to GSP+ concessions to the Sri Lankan exporter community to make best use of the concessions.

Accordingly a forum to disseminate information on the benefits of regaining the GSP+ facility was conducted by the Chamber on 22 May at the Bougainvilla ballroom of Hotel Galadari, following the confirmation of the regaining of the GSP+ concessions by Sri Lanka. Over 200 member exporters of the Chamber, non-members, as well as service

providers to exporters participated at the forum. DFT-8-6

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Harsha De Silva, EU delegation Counselor /Head of Political, Trade and Communications Section Paul Godfrey, Department of Commerce Director General Sonali Wijerathne, Export Development Board Director General Jeewani Siriwardane and KPMG Principal Suresh Perera were present on invitation and led the discussions. They were assisted by NCE President Ramal Jasinghe and by Secretary General of the Chamber Shiham Marikar.

Dr. Harsha De Silva outlined the success of the Government in regaining the GSP+ facility due to its own efforts related to the improvement of human rights and labour rights, etc. and the right to obtain information made as an election promise, and not due to pressure from the EU or any other external agency as perceived by some. He also stated that the current exports of 2.3 billion euro can be increased by a further 2.0 billion euro by the end of this year with proper effort. His address also highlighted the importance of Sri Lankan Diplomatic Missions focusing on ‘Commercial Diplomacy’, and stressed that Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have been given to related staff in missions to perform, and also that training on market intelligence has been provided to heads of missions and commercial counsellors to derive optimum benefits from the concessions.

Paul Godfrey in his overview related to the concessions, mentioned that assuming Sri Lanka will reach upper middle income country status by the end of this year, Sri Lanka will have till the end of 2021 (including the grace period of one year) to benefit from the GSP+ facility, and that around 6,000 product lines will benefit under GSP+ with zero import duty. He also mentioned that the Government should ensure export friendly policies to exporters to reap the benefits, and also stressed on the demand for high quality products to meet EU standards, and particularly the demand for organic products.

Sonali Wijerathne, Director General of the Department of Commerce which was the focal point organisation in the process of regaining GSP+ concessions by Sri Lanka, made a detailed presentation on the GSP+ application process up to the approval of the GSP+ concessions. The presentation covered valuable technical information related to the GSP+ concessions, particularly in regard to the Value Addition criteria and ‘Cumulation of Country of Origin Processes’ for the eligibility of products to enjoy the benefits.

EDB Director General Jeewani Siriwaardane briefly outlined EDB assistance to exporters covering exports to EU countries with cost sharing up to Rs. 2 million per company for product diversification, and up to Rs. 500,000 per company for market development activities on reimbursement basis, to encourage and support the exporters.

KPMG Principal Suresh Perera stated that current Government Policy does not provide for tax holidays, but provides accelerated depreciation on expenditure related to machinery and equipment etc. as investment incentives. He also highlighted the 300% tax incentive on expenditure incurred for Brand Development and Brand Promotion which will aid in developing products for export to the EU. He suggested provision of tax incentives to promote quality improvement of products and services to enter EU markets to make better use of GSP+ concessions.

A panel discussion and Q&A session following the presentations, moderated by NCE Secretary General/CEO Shiham Marikar, enabled clarifications of queries by participants.

Useful information related to GSP+ concessions is available on the website of the Chamber. http://www.nce.lk/gspplus/.