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Sri Lanka commences work on global consumer compliance

Monday, September 22, 2014 > 09:28:31
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(Colombo Page)

Sri Lanka on Thursday commenced the work on global consumer compliance with the assistance of two top experts from the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva to pioneer the effort.

Anura Siriwardena, Secretary to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said more countries around the world continue to reduce their border tariffs, either unilaterally or through an increasing number of free trade agreements, called as RTAs-Regional Trade Agreements. While more Non-tariff barriers such as SPS and TBT measures have begun to create a significant impact on international trade.

"Unfortunately, most of these measures appear to be highly complex and increasingly challenging," Siriwardena said delivering the keynote address on behalf of Minister of Industry and Commerce, Rishad Bathiyutheen at the "National Seminar on WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures" held at the auditorium of Export Development Board (EDB) on September 18.

The first ever session to be held in partnership with WTO in Sri Lanka on SPS measures, the two day intensive program is conducted in Colombo by WTO Geneva's Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation and organized by the EDB and the Department of Commerce, both under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

"SPS measures" pertain to the international export standards to be adhered to by Lankan exporters when exporting food, animal and plant produce.

The session also saw more than 75 reprenstatives from 16 firms including CIC Agri Produce Export Ltd, Eastern Allied Agency Ltd, Ceylon Agro Industries, Basilur Tea, Akbar Bros, and Adamjee and Lukmanjee Ltd, eagerly taking part.

WTO experts Gretchen Stanton, Senior Counsellor, World Trade Organization-formerly with the US Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service and Director of the WTO's Intellectual Property Rights Division Antony Taubman participated in the forum.

Siriwardena said the SPS Agreement is one of the key legal instruments of the WTO-led multilateral trading system. It prevents countries from using various food safety and animal & plant health standards as disguised trade restrictive measures and therefore, the seminar, will be a highly useful exercise, particularly for the private sector businesses, whose merchandise has to satisfy various SPS requirements on both sides of the borders, as well as all the government authorities, which are responsible for Sri Lanka's own SPS regime.

He said more countries around the world today continue to reduce their border tariffs, either unilaterally or through an increasing number of free trade agreements and against this backdrop, non-tariff barriers such as SPS and TBT measures have begun to create a significant impact on international trade.

"Unfortunately, most of these measures appear to be highly complex and increasingly challenging. Some of them have become even very expensive to comply with. As a result, the LDCs and the resource-poor developing countries, which do not have sophisticated SPS infrastructure at their disposal, are placed at a very disadvantaged position in the international market place," he pointed out.

He said as the Secretary, responsible for Sri Lanka's foreign trade, he is concerned about the numerous difficulties Sri Lankan entrepreneurs, who make a vital contribution in the counry's economy, continue to encounter in different export destinations.

He said the government has set an ambitious target in achieving US$ 20 billion in exports by 2020.

"Though ambitious, this is not an impossible target, provided we get our act together and the economic conditions around the world remain conducive. My ministry and every institution that falls within its purview look forward to working very closely with our all stakeholders in this achieving this goal by 2020. In this context, we remain strongly committed to our business community, paving the way for them to play their role in the post-conflict development efforts of the island through job creation and export earnings," the Secretary said.


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