Sri Lanka DoC’s pioneering ‘Export to Sweden’ a hit

February, 15, 2017

The Department of Commerce’ pioneering session on Exporting to Sweden opened to a packed Lankan private sector audience in Colombo on 15 February.

“When EU GSP plus facility will come into force possibly in near future, Sri Lankan exporters will have more opportunities in Swedish market” said a pleased Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen on 15 February in Colombo. Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the Exporting to Sweden informational session by the Department of Commerce under his Ministry aimed at Sri Lankan exporters and would be exporters, and was held at World Trade Centre’s auditorium on the morning of 15 February. Joining the session were three international trade experts from Swedish National Board of Trade (SNBT- historically known as Kommerskollegium), led by New Delhi based Swedish Political Affairs Counsellor Anna Uggla. Joining the more than 100 Sri Lankan firms and government agencies at the session – which has special emphasis on exporting food products to Sweden-were Secretary General of Sweden-Sri Lanka Business Council Leif Ohlson and Secretary to Ministry of Ministry of Industry and Commerce Chinthana Lokuhetti, among others. Swedish Kommerskollegium’s interest on the Colombo session was such, it despatched one of its leading Trade Policy Advisors, Ms Nesli Almufti to move this Colombo session forward while also sending in a special camera team from Sweden’s no 1 TV station, Sveriges Television, to report back on the session.

“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 HE the President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe” said Minister Bathiudeen and added: “I invite all the participants at this session to make the most from this 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. Swedish foreign investment in Sri Lanka has increased from US$ 3.7 million in 2013 to US$ 4.2 million in 2014. The opportunities are many for both countries. Sri Lanka is a beneficiary country of trading with Sweden due to EU GSP scheme giving preferential market access to Sweden. 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. Sri Lanka is a geographical hub that facilitates entry to 1.7 billion strong South Asian market. I draw the attention of the visiting Swedish team towards Sri Lanka’s Free Trade Agreements with India and Pakistan. Through these FTAs more than 8000 products can be exported to these markets tariff free. I invite 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 surged in 2016 to $69 Mn from 2015’s US$ 64 million. 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.”

Sweden is the largest economy in the 25 million strong “advanced” Nordic market, in turn considered as the eleventh largest economy in the world. 11.5% of Sweden’s annual imports come from Asia. The SNBT, one of the pioneering international trade advisory bodies in the world is historically known as “Kommerskollegium” and starting way back in 1651!

Photo - Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen (second from right) is joined by Swedish representatives (from left) New Delhi based Swedish Political Affairs Counsellor Anna Uggla, Trade Policy Advisors from SNBT, Ms Karolina Zurek and Ms Nesli Almufti, and DG Commerce Sonali Wijeratne at the opening session of “Export to Sweden” at WTC, Colombo on 15 February. At far right is Ministry Secretary Chinthana Lokuhetti.