SL re­ceives thumbs up for progress in com­ply­ing with WTO TFA

„As­sis­tance Pro­ject to im­prove SL’S in­clu­sive trade-led growth, regional in­te­gra­tioneu Am­bas­sador „ITC Trade Fa­cil­i­ta­tion Ad­vi­sor says SL needs to pri­ori­tise re­forms needed

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - BUSINESS NEWS - By Shabiya Ali Ah­lam

The key stake­hold­ers of the EU-SRI Lanka Trade-re­lated As­sis­tance Pro­gramme yes­ter­day gave the gov­ern­ment thumbs up for hav­ing taken a “firm” com­mit­ment in im­prov­ing the lo­cal trad­ing en­vi­ron­ment and ac­tively work­ing to­wards com­ply­ing with the World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WTO) Trade Fa­cil­i­ta­tion Agree­ment (TFA).

By rat­i­fy­ing the TFA, the is­land na­tion pledges in tak­ing a le­gal com­mit­ment to im­prove the trans­parency, pre­dictabil­ity and ef­fi­ciency of its cross-bor­der en­vi­ron­ment.

The acknowledgement of Sri Lanka tak­ing steps in the right di­rec­tion is note­wor­thy, given that the coun­try came un­der harsh crit­i­cism by the trad­ing part­ners for the lack of trans­parency and pre­dictabil­ity, even after the new regime as­sured good gov­er­nance in all ef­forts.

EU Am­bas­sador to Sri Lanka Tunglai Mar­gue yes­ter­day com­mended the gov­ern­ment for tak­ing “many” pos­i­tive steps in im­ple­ment­ing the WTO TFA, the need of the hour, as it aims to se­cure a global hub sta­tus.

“We are proud to work hand in hand with Sri Lanka and pro­vide tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance to the As­sis­tance Pro­ject. This pro­ject aims to im­prove Sri Lanka’s in­clu­sive tradeled growth and regional in­te­gra­tion to im­prove the competitiveness of Sri Lanka’s SMES in regional SAARC and EU mar­kets and steps in the right di­rec­tion are be­ing taken in a timely man­ner,” Mar­gue told a work­shop in this re­gard held in Colombo yes­ter­day.

It was stressed that work­ing on the other ar­eas, such as ex­port devel­op­ment, crack­ing san­i­tary is­sues and value chain devel­op­ment and fa­cil­i­tat­ing bor­der op­er­a­tions, is also crit­i­cal to im­prove the coun­try’s busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment.

Mar­gue said that to re­ally ben­e­fit from the pref­er­en­tial trade agree­ments, well­func­tion­ing bor­der op­er­a­tions are a nec­es­sary pre­req­ui­site.

“We all stand ready to co­op­er­ate but at the end of the day, it is your own­er­ship and good col­lab­o­ra­tion that will al­low the work at hand to be a suc­cess,” Mar­gue as­serted to the au­di­ence that in­cluded rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the im­ple­ment­ing agen­cies.

The In­ter­na­tional Trade Cen­tre (ITC), the im­ple­ment­ing agency for the EU-SRI Lanka Trade-re­lated As­sis­tance Pro­gramme, too ac­knowl­edged and com­mended Sri Lanka for hav­ing al­ready taken the “im­por­tant” steps to­wards the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the TFA.

Fol­low­ing the com­mit­ment to the WTO, Sri Lanka has es­tab­lished a National TF Com­mit­tee (NTFC) and a per­ma­nent sec­re­tar­iat and this move has been iden­ti­fied as a key com­po­nent in driv­ing the coun­try to­wards re­form.

The NTFC has de­vel­oped a de­tailed ac­tion plan for each of the agen­cies in­volved in the re­form process and has stressed on the steps needed to be taken in a co­or­di­nated man­ner, for Sri Lanka to be com­pli­ant with the agree­ment.

How­ever, ITC Trade Fa­cil­i­ta­tion Ad­vi­sor Pierre Bon­thon­neau said that now is the time to take the process one step fur­ther.

“No coun­try is in a po­si­tion to im­ple­ment such a large process si­mul­ta­ne­ously. Coun­tries thus need to iden­tify the pri­or­i­ties the re­forms needed by the busi­ness com­mu­nity to im­prove its competitiveness. So, Sri Lanka needs to pri­ori­tise the re­forms needed, so that the lo­cal traders are at a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage. We all ac­knowl­edge the need for col­lab­o­ra­tion and work­ing to­gether,” he said.

The EU-SRI Lanka Trade-re­lated As­sis­tance Pro­gramme is a four-year pro­ject funded by the EU and is im­ple­mented by the ITC in part­ner­ship with the Com­merce Depart­ment and United Na­tions In­dus­trial Devel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (UNIDO).

Tung-lai Mar­gue Pierre Bon­thon­neau Pix by Kith­siri De Mel

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