Feb 15, Colombo: The workshop on Exports to Sweden organized by the Department of Commerce for Sri Lankan exporters opened today in Colombo to a packed private sector audience, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said.
Addressing the informational session held at the World Trade Center auditorium on Wednesday, Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said when EU GSP plus facility will come into force possibly in near future, Sri Lankan exporters will have more opportunities in Swedish market.
Joining the session were three international trade experts from Swedish National Board of Trade led by New Delhi based Swedish Political Affairs Counsellor Anna Uggla along with the Secretary General of Sweden-Sri Lanka Business Council Leif Ohlson and Secretary to Ministry of Industry and Commerce Chinthana Lokuhetti.
More than 100 Sri Lankan firms and government agencies participated in the workshop which has special emphasis on exporting food products to Sweden.
"This event is timely given the importance that Sri Lanka has attached to the global value chains with the competitive advantage of geographical location as per the vision of the Unity government of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe," Minister Bathiudeen said.
The Minister invited all the participants at the session to make the most from the special forum and contribute to bigger trade with Sweden.
"We encourage private sector cooperation between Sri Lanka and Sweden as it is one of the important avenues of expanding our bilateral relationship," he said.
Minister Bathiudeen pointed out that Sri Lanka is a beneficiary country of trading with Sweden due to EU GSP scheme giving preferential market access to Sweden and there are many opportunities for both countries while Swedish foreign investment in Sri Lanka has increased from US$ 3.7 million in 2013 to US$ 4.2 million in 2014.
He said that when EU GSP plus facility will come into force possibly in near future, Sri Lankan exporters will no doubt get more opportunities in Swedish market.
Today’s session will be highly informative for Sri Lankan exporters to increase their exports in food products such as coconut, dried fruits & vegetables, spices including cinnamon, tea, and organic products. This not only opens the Swedish market but even the entire Scandinavian and Nordic markets in future, the Minister noted.
Drawing the attention of the visiting Swedish team to Sri Lanka's Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with India and Pakistan, the Industry and Commerce Minister explained that Sri Lanka is a geographical hub that facilitates entry in to 1.7 billion strong South Asian market and therefore, through the two FTAs more than 8000 products can be exported to these markets tariff free.
The Minister invited the Swedish investors and exporters to consider setting up in rapidly developing Sri Lanka to access South Asia, which is now considered as the World's fastest growing region.
Sri Lanka's exports to Sweden in 2016 increased to only $69 million from US$ 64 million in 2015. Sweden is the largest economy in the Nordic region. It is the 30th largest export destination of Sri Lanka and 8th largest destination of EU region for Sri Lanka’s exports.
Main Lankan exports to Sweden include Apparel, Rubber Products, Tea, Coconut Kernel Based Value Added Products, Activated Carbon, Toys, Ceramic Ornaments, and processed food.
New Delhi based Swedish Political Affairs Counsellor Anna Uggla, in her brief speech thanked the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka and praised its commitment with which it facilitated this successful information session in Colombo. "Sweden is also a food lover country. Sweden is interested in food products from all over the world-including from Sri Lanka," she said.