Sri Lanka exporters urged to be focused and add value: Harsha de Silva

July 30, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s exporters should focus and export more value added goods and services with a target of surpassing Gross domestic product (GDP), Deputy Economic Policy Minister Harsha de Silva said.

“I would like to see exports to GDP surpassing, that means more than 100 percent of GDP,” Silva said.

“So that is what our aim should be, not 20 billion or 30 billion,”

“Also we should forcus on creating value and export value.”

Silva says Singapore’s exports is about 200 percent of GDP while Hong Kong is 300 percent of GDP.

“We do not need to get there right away,”

“But let’s have a target, think about it and then we can think about a completely different way of looking at exports. Completely out of the box.”

Sri Lanka’s export earnings recorded a marginal decline of 0.1 per cent, year-on-year, to 883 million US dollars in May 2015, led by lower performance in tea, sea food, gem, diamond and jewellery exports, data showed.

Exports fell from 10.55 billion dollars in 2011 to 9.77 billion dollars following depreciation of the rupee in 2012 and grew back to 1.39 billion dollars in 2013. The 2011 figures was exceeded only in 2014 in dollar terms amid falls in dollar commodity prices.

“So that is a lack of focus and vision and that is why you need people to think differently,” de Silva said.

“I have told the former President Mahinda Rajapakse number of times that his focus was not appropriate and I had number of arguments with former governor and with the secretary to the treasury that focus was misplaced,”

“I continuously asked the former president about this and in that occasion the governor or the secretary jump and say “no no Mr MP we have other things to do as well , exports is only one part but we have to do this and that,”

“Wrong. Completely wrong. That is the wrong thing that they did. The forcus must be on exports,”

“We must understand that we have no future without exports.”

He said the recently launched United National Party’s (UNP) manifesto clearly says that the party wants Sri Lanka to become most competivie economy in this part of the world.

“So we are not looking at Sri lanka as an Island nation of 20 million people. We are looking at Sri Lanka as a dynamic player in the global beat,”

“That is the difference.”

De Silva said that Sri Lanka cannot be considered in isolation but must be considered with countires who has taken advantage of emerging dynamic of global trade.

“So export export and export.” De Silva said.