The country will be projected under a new theme “Sri Lanka Rising” to the international market in attracting exports and expanding our markets, President, National Chamber of Exporters Sri Lanka (NCESL) Rohan Fernando said. The Chamber is working towards disseminating this simple message through our products, he said.
He called for an urgent national policy on development, energy and water emphasizing the need to conserve water and energy and to make maximum use. “We have the potential and we work with Government institutions to create a positive frame of mind. This is what we try to inculcate in our members as a business community”, he said.
Under the current economic environment we stood up to a worldwide recession and fought a war which was the worst in the world.
We overcame these challenges successfully. The country was not badly affected by recession due to the stringent financial regulations. Firstly, as a Sri Lankan and as business community we congratulate the correct political leadership, armed forces and others involved in the successful role against the war, he said.
There is a saying that “when one door closes at least another door opens” and we need to concentrate on the avenues available for development.
The upbeat about the future and achieving the goals is not a difficult task, Fernando said. We need to strive to look at other openings.
Sri Lanka’s economy is resilient to the point that there is an abundance of natural strengths and resources. These natural strengths including military expertise could be made use of in international wars.
The natural resources such as marine, water, wind and solar are not exploited fully. Steps are needed to extend our maritime economic zone to broaden our boundaries. The sea contains natural resources including fish, minerals, carbon resources and power generation capacity by way of geo- thermal.
It’s our responsibility to harness all these resources. We are an island nation. The Government needs to have a timeframe to stop importing fish, he said.
“This is a time that we can set up our basic infrastructure and ground work. After the recession there will be a boom point. This could propel so many other silent dormant activities. We should be prepared to take full use of the world economic expansion”, he said.
Sri Lanka has a vast potential in converting many areas of food production in to consumer ready items.
Tea recorded a one billion dollar turnover two years ago. It has the potential to be a five billion industry and 3.5 billion kilograms of tea are consumed annually. Tea is no more a poor man’s beverage. It is a health related product and tea could also produce a range of by-products which are health supportive and aimed at life support.
We can expand our tea export industry to make Sri Lanka a tea export nation. This would facilitate national economic growth, Fernando said.
Regarding milk production, it is far from satisfactory. We are confident that with a proper strategy we could improve liquid milk production. Our garment industry should aim at high end products and value addition.
The North and East development is vital in our economy. These provinces need to produce food items such as fish, onions, potatoes and chillies not only for local consumption, but should be also export oriented.
There is a greater demand for foods and also for natural food and we need to capitalize on this situation, Fernando said. We should encourage local production and this in turn will benefit our farmers. It will also help to save billions of rupees of valuable foreign exchange on food imports, he said.