Sri Lanka: Trade related assistance
The EU - Sri Lanka Trade-Related Assistance Project aims to increase the trade competitiveness of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in regional and European Union (EU) markets. The 4 year EU-funded project, worth EUR 8 million, contributes to inclusive trade led growth and regional integration. It supports SME export competitiveness and value addition in sectors with high potential for economic growth and development. The project helps Sri Lanka integrate the policies and regulatory reforms of the World Trade Organization (WTO), allowing SMEs to make the most of the potential opportunities resulting from the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus. It also enables greater regional integration within the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The project addresses compliance standards and efficiencies in cross border procedures, which are key constraints to market access, especially for SMEs. Specific attention is given to enhancing value chains in the spice, food and Information Technology/Business Process Outsourcing (IT/BPO) sectors. The project provides trade capacity building and technical assistance, with a strong focus on training and skills development. Women are heavily involved in trade and are therefore a target group when it comes to capacity building of SMEs and exporters.
Sustainable Development Goals
Sri Lanka: Promoting inclusive growth through trade and regional integration
This ITC project worked from 2018-2021, in line with Sri Lanka’s objectives, to strengthen small and medium sized-enterprises as a way of expanding the export economy. We supported the creation of a conducive business environment, improved domestic productive capacity and trade performance, and promoted Sri Lanka’s integration into global and regional markets. We also supported the country’s trade agenda and negotiation skills in compliance with the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.
ITC did this through:
- Holding Public-Private dialogues on the important trade policy areas of logistics, e-commerce, investment, duty free tariff access to the EU market, and linkages between industrial and trade policy
- Helping businesses understand different aspects of international trade, better positioning them to export to European markets, and providing export management support
- Supporting national and regional chambers of commerce to improve their business advocacy and services to their members
Developing key import/export information for Sri Lanka’s Trade Information Portal and providing access to transparent trade-related information
Strengthening the capacity of the National Trade Facilitation Committee to drive the implementation of trade facilitation reforms
Developing an e-learning course on cross-border procedures for exports in collaboration with the National Institute of Exports
Holding a tailor-made capacity-building coaching Initiative for 70 small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and an export marketing planning training and coaching programme for 85 SMEs.
Food, spice and technology
With our guidance, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the food and spice sector entered 19 new markets in Europe, the Asia-Pacific, and the Americas. We also trained more than 2,000 SMEs and 400 extension officers on food safety and quality assurance best practices, and provided technical guidance to 101 SMEs on improving enterprise performance. Thirty are now certified against international certification schemes.
In the IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, we helped the Sri Lanka Association of Software and Service Companies better represent the interests of its clients and provide growth opportunities to younger companies.
Our project also helped sector SMEs to identify and meet new buyers in the EU countries, and supported select companies to attend the world’s leading mobile technology event, the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, and participate in ITC-organized B2B events. This backing helped Sri Lanka companies generate several business deals with international buyers.
We also promoted the sector brand “Island of Ingenuity” through branding interventions, advisory work and marketing material. Businesses said the “IoI” brand umbrella gave them the confidence to position their services and approach international markets.