Oct 01, Colombo: In a move to improve the country's regional small and medium industries, Sri Lanka's main business chamber, The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), has conducted a series of workshops in several provinces.
The workshops have been conducted in the cities of Uva, Northern, Southern, Eastern and Central with assistance provided by the Asia Foundation.
According to the CCC a large number of regional SMEs actively participated at these workshops held in Galle, Kandy, Badulla, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Ampara and Jaffna with the help of the regional chambers in the relevant districts.
The CCC says that awareness on improving the quality and presentation of their products will enable a large number of small and medium manufacturers in the regions to supply their products to super market chains and command a high price by reaching out to the high end domestic consumer market.
The regional SMEs need education on the importance of having a bar code for their products, understanding the mandatory labeling and standards requirements as well as importance of these as a tool for marketing their products.
It is imperative that SMEs adhere to these basic requirements, for them to elevate their level of production in terms of quality and to be able to access super market chains and reputed retail stores to sell their products, the CCC stresses.
The Chamber says that not only regional SMEs lack awareness on the importance of these but they also need to be made aware of the procedure and costs of adhering to these requirements. Success in the domestic market will pave way for some of the SMEs to eventually reach out to the international market, the CCC points out.
With the support of the Export Development Board and the Sri Lanka Customs, the CCC has demonstrated the need for the SMEs to be aware of the import/export procedures and trade facilitation since lack of awareness/information on export and import procedures greatly limit the ability of regional SMEs to trade with the rest of the world.
It has been found that there were many regional businesses were keen to import raw materials/machinery required to upgrade their production. Further, there were a number of SME level producers who were keen to know how they could become direct/indirect exporters.
Another objective of these workshops was to enhance their awareness on the importance of implementing trade facilitation measures in Sri Lanka thereby increasing the ability of regional businesses to engage in international trade. Automation of procedures and simplification of processes will greatly save time and money spent by regional SMEs to come to Colombo to obtain various approvals/certification required for both export and import.
Another target of these workshops was to train the officials of the regional chambers who can acquire the necessary knowledge by attending these workshops together with their members, make necessary contacts with the relevant officials who come to do the training programs and continue to educate their members and facilitate them in getting a bar code as well as to meet the labeling and standard requirements. The resource materials developed for the workshops can be used for this and also be made available to members through the Regional Chambers.