International Trade

Impact of Sri Lanka’s Economic Crisis on the Exports Sector

While steady growth in exports was recorded in the year 2021, Sri Lanka’s deepening economic crisis runs the serious risk of impacting the export recovery achieved to date. In March 2022, merchandise exports, consisting largely of industrial and agricultural exports, recorded a decline of 3.4% in earnings, compared to the previous year, due to a reduction in both volume and prices of exports. In addition to this, industry representatives predict a decline of about 20% - 30% in total exports as a result of the current crisis, with tea exports being among the lowest it has been in 23 years, and the apparel sector expecting a 20% - 25% drop in output by August 2022. Latest figures for June indicate that apparel sector has exceeded expectations and pre-Covid export numbers. In the context of the economic crisis, escalating now to a de facto lockdown across the country, understanding the challenges posed to the country’s external sector performance, one of Sri Lanka’s main sources of foreign exchange, is crucial. At present, exports of goods and services, which account for 17.7% of GDP as of 2021, have been adversely affected by several factors including most significantly, the worsening fuel and energy crisis.

SMARTER SUSTAINABILITY:
Sri Lanka Must Use GSP+ for
Smarter Positioning on Sustainability

When Sri Lanka regained the GSP+ trade concessions to the EU, exporters from a range of sectors got a renewed opportunity to compete in this lucrative market. Yet, prospects for future growth will rely on Sri Lanka boosting its sustainability and governance credentials, to position exports more strongly, for the longer term. In this interview in the Smarter Sustainability series, Anisha Rajapakse explores key issues for Sri Lanka in strengthening its positioning as a trusted and preferred sourcing location for EU buyers, using GSP+ and beyond.

SIGNALS OF CHANGE:
Three Emerging Post-Covid Trends for Sri Lanka’s Apparel Sector

Sri Lanka’s apparel industry – a significant export revenue earner and employer – was substantially hit by the pandemic. Aside from the short-term supply and demand shocks, the pandemic accelerated trends that were in motion prior to the crisis, and these provide signals of change and point to the direction in which the Sri Lankan apparel industry needs to head in. Moving from recovery to resilience and a new wave of growth will be shaped by three emerging trends - attracting new investment that drives innovation (in business models and products) and plugs into new supply chains and on focussing on meeting more stringent sustainability and other compliance requirements of buyers and preferences of consumers.

Looking Beyond Tariffs to Win in
Export markets: A New Focus for SMEs

Tariffs often take centre stage in discussions around market access for exporters – especially SME exporters. But this view is increasingly out of date. Standards are a new differentiator, even to markets where preferential tariff advantages are not available. Standards compliance should not be seen as a barrier, but as a way for firms to find new sources of competitiveness and branding

SIGNALS OF CHANGE:
Can Blockchain Solve Trade Finance Bottlenecks?

Trade finance is currently full of inefficiencies, and access to trade finance has proved to be a continual challenge for SME exporters. The industry is ripe for disruption, and blockchain is proving to be a key source of disruptive innovation. Several pilots have shown the way for blockchain to improve trade finance - both in reducing time and costs.