Story: New beginnings for Sri Lankan enterprises (en)
"Our sales have increased twofold. We were also able to identify digital marketing as a solution for clients during the pandemic." Achini Perera, Director Digital Marketing and Finance, Weblankan said, describing the progress of her company.
Chim Himidumage, co-founder of Fidenz Technologies, is happy with the direction his company is moving in. "We managed to develop an export marketing plan which is tailor-made to the size of company, target market and the kind of services we want to provide to our clients," he said, looking back at initiatives that helped his company flourish.
Achini and Chim received support for their companies from the European Union (EU) - Sri Lanka Trade Related Assistance project over the past four years. The support helped hundreds of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Sri Lanka increase their trade competitiveness in the EU and regional markets.
From digital marketing to export planning
Since November 2016, the project has strengthened the Sri Lankan macro-economic framework, expanded the export economy and promoted investment within Sri Lanka's National Policy Framework. The International Trade Centre supported the planning and implementation of a coherent national scale trade strategy for export competitiveness, under the lead of the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB), resulting in a five-year National Export Strategy (NES) to support the country's development agenda and its goal of becoming a leading Asian export hub, driven by innovation and investment.
National capacities were developed in e-commerce, investment promotion, trade negotiations and policy dialogue to support policymakers and SMEs in navigating complex multilateral, regional and domestic trading environments. Capacity to advocate for issues related to the private sector was developed in partnership with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL).
Over 50 enterprises received technical support for managing the cross-border procedures of the European Union and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) markets with a five-year roadmap for the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) endorsed by the Sri Lanka National Trade Facilitation Committee.
The Department of Commerce also launched, together with ITC, the step-by-step trade procedures functionality to enhance the Sri Lanka Trade Information portal, to benefit Sri Lankan traders by providing transparent and updated trade-related import and export information.
A comprehensive e-curriculum course was developed with the National Institute of Exporters (NIOE) for Sri Lankan SMEs to manage cross-border procedures.
Jointly with EDB and Sri Lanka Association for Software Services Companies (SLASSCOM), SMEs entered eight new markets in Europe and Asia, and more than 120 companies received training and coaching to increase exports.
ITC and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in partnership with the Department of Commerce (DoC) of the Ministry of Trade, implemented the project.