The Sri Lankan government on Thursday said it hoped to increase its exports to 30 billion dollars by 2020, in order to strengthen its frail economy and compete with regional markets.
Speaking at an event to launch the World Export Development Forum 2016, which will be held in Sri Lanka in October, International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrema said the country's share of global exports had been on the decline, and the government now intended to increase it.
"Sri Lanka's exports of goods and services amounted to about 17 billion dollars only in 2015. This is less than 20 percent of the GDP. While in countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, exports exceed 70 percent of GDP," Samarawickrema said.
The government, he said, was making efforts in promoting its exports through the lifting of the EU fisheries ban which will be in place by the end of this month or early next month and getting back the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) plus which they hoped to have in place before the end of this year.
Sri Lanka also hoped to increase its exports, through the Economy and Technology Cooperation with India which is to be signed by mid this year and a comprehensive agreement with China which the minister said would be in place by the end of this year or early next year.
"Trade and investment with the US is also being enhanced under a 5 year action plan under the Trade and Investment Agreement. At the same time we are also considering FTAs with Singapore, Malaysia and Turkey," Samarawickrema said.
Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishard Batiudeen, speaking at the launch, said Sri Lanka was an ideal destination to host the World Export Development Forum as Colombo had become South Asia's topmost "container transshipment" hub with all top twenty global shippers calling the Colombo port on a regular basis.