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Sri Lanka's new gov't aims to boost exports

The new Sri Lankan government is aiming to boost exports this year as at least four state ministers have been appointed to develop key local products such as gems, batiks, coconut, rubber, vegetables and tea, local media reports said here Friday.

Last Wednesday, Sri Lanka swore in a new 26 member cabinet along with 39 state ministers which included a state minister for coconut, fishtail palm, palmyra and rubber product promotion, and allied industrial production and export diversification, then a state minister for the development of sugarcane, maize, cashew, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, betel production and promotion of allied products and export, and a state minister to concentrate on the export of ornamental fish, freshwater fish and shrimp farming development, multi-day fishing, and fish export.

Export Development Board (EDB) Chairman Prabhash Subasinghe was quoted in the local Daily FT as saying that sector-specific state ministers/ministries had amplified the importance of the export sector and that they look forward to working with all line ministries to boost merchandised exports.

"Exports have been recognized as a deserving sector to appoint sector-specific ministries in reviving the economy post-COVID-19. A lot of emphases has been given to agricultural exports and farming, which has been a weak area in our export basket for decades," Prabhash said.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Sri Lanka's merchandise exports last month crossed the one billion dollar mark, local media quoting official statistics said.

Soon after the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in Sri Lanka in March, exports in April fell to 277.4 million U.S. dollars, but a continuous pick-up in exports was seen thereafter, with 587 million U.S. dollars in May and 906 million U.S. dollars in June.

The EDB is optimistic and anticipates that the steady growth trend would continue in the last quarter of this year. It's confident that the food and agriculture exports would help Sri Lanka achieve the 10.5 billion U.S. dollar target set for this year.