The National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka, addressing numerous issues faced by its members, instigated a series of webinars under the theme ‘Grow beyond traditional markets’ in collaboration with Sri Lankan foreign missions. The main objective of this initiative is to assist exporters to reach new markets and identify emerging demand for various products and services, under the new normal by global consumers. Keeping abreast with the program, the Chamber conducted two webinars recently, in coordination with the Sri Lankan Embassy in USA and India Business Group, a Chamber of Commerce based in Mumbai.
The webinar with the US Embassy was mainly focused on improving market access for Sri Lankan coconut and coconut-based products. Representing the US Embassy, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha made the opening remarks. He highlighted the need to support the Sri Lankan SME exporters in reaching out to global consumers. In this regard, the US Embassy has taken a strategic move to develop a ‘Warehouse Concept’ supported by the Sri Lanka Export Development Board, the first such warehouse been dedicated to the apparel sector.
The expected outcome of this strategic approach is of many folds including meeting customer demand instantly, bridging the time gap between the production and consumption of products, and also obtaining price utilisation through the creation of time utility. The delays in the supply chain due to the prevailing global catastrophe can also be mitigated to a larger extent through this facility. According to the Ambassador, they have taken steps to set up two such facilities in the East and West Coasts of the United States where exporters can send in their goods in advance, for storage. In this regard, EDB playing a significant supportive role will provide financial aid for the first six months, he stated.
Further elaborating on the subject matter, Ambassador Ravinatha explained the role being played by the Embassy, setting a trend in motion, and matchmaking between the seller and the buyer, and warehouse being the hard end of the deal. He also stressed the important role played by the Sri Lankan community and academics in the US who can make connections and provide technical know-how to support Sri Lankan exporters. The Embassy is making every effort to connect such individuals with exporters to facilitate the process. In this aspect, the Embassy was able to revive the US Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce which has been in defunct mode, providing the most required organisational strength for Sri Lankan exporters.
Addressing the subject matter, the Ambassador mentioned the untapped potential for Sri Lankan Coconut-based products in the US and the need to compete effectively with existing suppliers from countries like India. He requested the exporters to establish contact with the US investors for direct investment in the Sri Lankan coconut sector. In answer to a question raised by a participant, the Ambassador also highlighted the importance of women’s employment in this sector and their contribution is essential for the economic development of the country. US Embassy Minister Commercial Sumedha Ponnamperuma made a presentation covering the main areas and requirements of coconut-based products to the USA.
The NCE also joined a B2B webinar conducted by the India Business Group, to improve bilateral trade between the two countries. India Business Group (IBG) a Chamber of Commerce based in Mumbai is an association serving the ecosystem of business sectors for the last eight years. IBG is a pioneer Chamber in India, representing more than 75,000 members around the country. They have signed up MoUs with more than 30 chambers around the globe and neighbouring states. During the webinar, members from both Chambers were able to introduce themselves and their respective businesses and to exchange business referrals and lead generation.
These webinars received a high response from participants and the NCE is planning to conduct more webinars of similar type in the near future, with other Sri Lankan missions where Sri Lanka currently maintains strong trade relationships, and other international trade chambers.