Sri Lanka exporters miss preferential duty access to China

Sept 25, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lankan exporters are not making use of lower import duty market access to China under a regional trade pact owing to lack of awareness and initiative, economists and trade officials said. The preferential trading arrangement, Asia-Pacific Trade Arrangement (APTA), previously called the Bangkok agreement, has helped increase trade between Sri Lanka and China, they said.

Saman Kelegama, executive director, Institute of Policy Studies, a think tank, said China provides tax concessions for 1,700 Sri Lankan export products at a margin of preference over the general tariff level of 27 percent.

The preferential tariffs cover 50 percent of total Sri Lankan exports to China, he told a Sri Lanka-China business forum.

“These concessions are expected to increase to cover over 2,000 export products within the next one and a half years,” Kelegama said.

“But usage of these tariff concessions by Sri Lankan exporters is very low,” he said. “Our exporters have used less than five percent of the preferential tariff lines given by China.”

Out of APTA eligible exports, fifteen percent of the preferential tariff lines remain completely untouched by Sri Lankan exporters.

“We have