- Says industry is performing ‘well’ amidst new wave
- Looks at venturing into new export markets
Despite earlier claims of revising the export target set for this year amidst disruptions caused to export operations in the face of the new wave, the Export Development Board (EDB) now says that the target set for the year will be kept as it is.
A senior official from EDB who wished to remain anonymous confirmed that the export industry is performing well and by the end of this year, the target set of $ 15.68 billion will most likely be achieved as planned.
We also spoke to EDB Chairman Suresh de Mel who said that the $ 15.68 billion target would be possible as EDB is facilitating exporters to carry on their operations without any hindrance amidst travel restrictions and other limitations that are faced due to the prevailing condition.
Along with this, de Mel said that EDB is currently negotiating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other countries to evaluate the changing scenarios of other parts of the world that could open new opportunities such as increased participation in virtual trade fairs, etc.
“Virtual trade fairs will open doors for many businesses and people as prior to Covid-19 only very few participants could afford to attend international trade fairs, hence this will bring inward income to the country,” he said.
According to de Mel, EDB is also focusing on getting the vaccination for all export industry-related employees, creating a conducive environment for investments to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country and also improving the quantity and quality of agricultural products that are in demand in the world market.
Nevertheless, speaking to us last month, de Mel said that the export target for 2021 needs to be revised because of the “twist” that has taken place due to the third wave of the pandemic which prevails in Sri Lanka for the last couple of months.
“We have to revise our (Sri Lanka’s) targets (export),” said de Mel, explaining that the pandemic has made the country’s situation chaotically unpredictable, especially when it comes to exports.
As per the statistics released by Sri Lanka Customs, Sri Lanka’s merchandise exports in May 2021 was $ 884.2 million, an increase of 50.71% over $ 586.7 million in May 2020.
It is noteworthy that Sri Lanka’s export performance during the period of January to April 2021 has had growth in most sectors. When it comes to the largest export merchandise, the apparel has achieved $ 1693.31 million. Tea has earned $ 417.38 million during the same period. However, in comparison to the one in 2020, spice and essential oils have had the highest growth in percentage which is 136.76%. The apparel sector and tea have had a growth of 28.69% and 19.79%, respectively.
Whereas, the single largest export destination of the United States recorded $ 1,133.71 million worth of exports in the period of January to May 2021 which is a significant year on year increase of 25.26 % in comparison to $ 905.1 million recorded in 2020.
However, exports witnessed a gradual deterioration following the spread of the third wave of the virus locally in the past few months even though during these months export performance in comparison to the same period in the previous year was a growth.