The Sri Lanka Export Development Board [EDB] which turned 40 years on 1st August is the premier state organization for the development and promotion of exports. The Board plays myriad roles in the export sector of the economy, as a Policy Advisor, Monitor, Promoter, Facilitator and Knowledge Provider in carrying out its responsibilities of implementing strategies for achieving national export targets.
The vision of the EDB, “Position Sri Lanka as a Prominent Export Hub for Innovative Products & Services” is aligned with the development vision of the Government and with the vision of the National Export Strategy.
The mission of the EDB, “Enable export competitiveness through Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Global Integration” is focused on increasing foreign exchange earnings and thereby contributing to the national economy.
History of the EDB
In the 1970s, the International Trade Centre (ITC), the United Nations Conference on Development of Trade and Tariff pressed the establishment of Trade Promotion Organization’s (TPO) in member nations with the objective of promotion and development of the export trade. The establishment of the Export Promotion Secretariat in 1972 in Sri Lanka to support export development did not achieve much. This enthused the business community to open a dialogue within their community to establish the urgent necessity of a national body for the promotion and development of exports.
The EDB was established under the direction of the late Lalith Athulathmudali, then Hon. Minister of Trade & Shipping, on 1st August 1979 under the Sri Lanka Export Development Act No. 40 of 1979. The first significant step of this Act was to empower EDB with wide powers on export promotion and development for performance of its functions at the highest standard in the best interest of the nation.
The structure set up for the EDB was unique. An Export Development Council of Ministers was formed under the Chairmanship of the H.E The President. The Hon. Ministers in charge of Trade & Shipping, Industries, Fisheries, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Planning & Rural Industries were the other members of the Council.
The objective of the Council was to advise the EDB with directives for prompt execution of the decisions taken by the Export Development Council of Ministers. This feature could not be perceived in any of the other Government institutions. Hence, it is an attempt to directly showcase the national interest in export promotion.
As a leading government institution in respect of export development , the EDB was entrusted with duties of greater responsibility such as to advise the Council of Ministers on National Export Development Policy; formulate National Export Development Plans; facilitate the supply and diversification of products & services; execution of research & market development programs; help resolve the issues involving the exporters within the government; develop exporting skills; extend advisory assistance to the exporters and improve international relationships with related agencies.
Export sector is witnessing a revival in growth with an ambitious target of achieving US $ 20 Billion by the end of 2019. Furthermore, for the first time, over US$ one billion monthly merchandize export earnings were recorded in three months of the first half of 2019 ie January (US$1,030 Mn), March (US$1,137 Mn.) & June (US$1,099 Mn).
Sri Lanka’s Foreign Exchange Earnings from exports of merchandise and services have grown significantly since 2015 to date. The export revenue has increased from US $ 7.5 billion during Jan – June 2018 to US $ 8.4 billion during Jan – June 2019, registering an 11.3 percent growth (11.3%). Further, export sector Contribution to the GDP has increased to 18% by year 2018.
Export Performance/ Foreign Exchange Earnings - Jan-June 2018 & 2019
National Export Strategy
EDB performs its key functions in five identified roles; namely as policy advisor, monitor, promoter, facilitator and knowledge provider. A National Export Strategy (NES) 2018-2022 was formulated in collaboration with public and private sector stakeholders and launched in July 2018 with the aim of increasing export revenue by 28 Billion in 2022 to achieve the country’s future export targets.
NES for Sri Lanka 2018 -2022 was formulated under the guidance of Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade with other Government and private sector stakeholders and with financial support from European Union (EU) and technical assistance from International Trade Centre (ITC), Geneva. Novel globally competitive strategies were developed based on inclusive and extensive consultations with more than 600 public and private stakeholders focusing on a vision of “Sri Lanka – An Export Hub driven by Innovation and Investment”.
Creating 2000 New Exporters
Keeping in-line with government economic vision to transform Sri Lanka into an export trade hub, A National Programme has been implemented to nurture 2000 new exporters to become exporters during the year 2017-2020. Objective of this program is to encourage regional base entrepreneurs to enter to the export market and integrate local supply chain to the value chain of exports.
08 awareness programs including Business clinics, Business forums and \mini technology exhibitions were held in Jaffna, Kandy, Matara, Kurunegala. Kegalle, Anuradhapura, Rathnapura and Vauniya with participation of more than 250 entrepreneurs per each. Similarly, awareness seminars, capacity building, product/service development, market development programs and local trade fairs are conducted under this program. . In 2019, 29 programs were completed benefitting 1836 regional entrepreneurs. Up to date US$ 671,235 export value has been generated under this program.
So far, this program could create 60 direct exporters and 75 indirect exporters with US$ 4.5 and US$ 8.4 Mn of export value respectively.
EDB takes the leading role in improvement of export performance of Sri Lankan products and services through participation at international trade fairs to facilitate B2B meetings and organizing inward and outward buyer/seller missions. It also organizes local trade exhibitions to bring the exporters and buyers together. Apart from that, EDB promotes Sri Lankan exports online via its trade portal www.srilankbusiness.com.
“ERAMBUMA” Financial Support Scheme for Innovative Business Start-Ups
“Erambuma” Credit Scheme under the Enterprise Sri Lanka Programme - Financial Support for innovative business start-ups will provide an opportunity for young graduates to build their own businesses to commercialize and accelerate growth.
This programme was commenced under the National Budget Proposal 2018. This loan is provided on the merit of a viable business idea supported by a business plan. This is extended to young University Graduates or a certificate holder of NVQ level 5, 6 & 7 below the age of 35 years. The loan scheme operates island-wide.
Market Access Support Programme
EDB invites Entrepreneurs with a passion and determination to succeed and achieve prosperity to avail themselves for facilities under the "Market Access Support Programme" announced in the National Budget 2018.The programme envisages encouraging enterprises interested in expanding markets, modernizing / upgrading products, services, production processes and increasing market access to connect and compete by introducing improved value added products and services.
Presidential Export Awards to Reward Exporters
The Presidential Export Awards initiated by the EDB in 1981, is the most prestigious award presented to exporters who have made a significant contribution the export effort of the country. Being an island nation, exports will continue to play a crucial role in Sri Lankan economy. The goal by the NES is to increase exports to US$ 28Bn by 2022. Achieving this ambitious task should be the focus of all stakeholders. The presentation of this prestigious award signifies the enormous contribution made and commitment of demonstrated by the exporters for the development of the country and it will un-doubtable encourage existing exporters to reach greater heights and an inspiration to non-exporters to become export champions.
The EDB is celebrating its 40th anniversary on 1st August. As an apex national organization in Export Development and Promotion, the EDB deserves a high degree of praise for its remarkable contribution made towards socioeconomic development of the country. The EDB has been fully committed to accomplishing its vision of enhancing exports, diversifying the export basket, introducing innovation as well as generating employment opportunities that ensure the sustainable, enhanced economic growth of the country.
The EDB has been striving continuously to promote exports and facilitate the exporter community by creating an environment conducive to investment in Sri Lanka. The EDB is currently exploring new areas and identifying strategically important sectors such as IT/ BPM, Construction, Education and Wellness Tourism which have shown tremendous potential for the next level of development of exports in the country.