“Sri Lankan exporters should strive to exploit this facility” said Ambassador of Switzerland to Colombo Heinz Walker-Nederkoorn recently at a meeting with Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen.
“Bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Switzerland shows a strong short term growth. Still that could be way below real potential” said Ambassador Walker-Nederkoorn and added: “Switzerland is a central European country but is not a part of European Union. Still, our own Swiss GSP was implemented in 1971. Sri Lanka is still a beneficiary of a pioneering GSP facility that came in to being at the same time as the EU GSP. Sri Lankan exporters should strive to exploit this facility. Switzerland’s economy has a well-developed service sector such as financial services. Still, Switzerland can take in merchandise products and there is a demand. Exploiting our GSP can help boost your exports and also increase total bilateral trade. Swiss manufacturing industry specializes in high-technology and production.”
According to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)’s the Division of International Trade in Goods and Services and Commodities, the Swiss GSP facility that began in 1971, allows many Sri Lankan products to be exported totally tariff free to the Swiss market. Among them are Sri Lankan apparels and textiles (except HS 5001-5003, 5101, 5103, 5201-5203, 5301-5305, & 6310), coconuts and desiccated coconut, footwear, headgear, electrical machinery, certain fruits tropical fruits and spices, live ornamental fish, certain types of freshwater fish, types of cut flowers and foliage, tomatoes, onions and garlic, cabbages and cauliflower, types of beans, sweet corn, chick peas and kidney beans, ginger, and even mustard and turmeric.
Minister Bathiudeen, responding to Ambassador Walker-Nederkoorn agreed that present bilateral trade is far below its real potential. “I am given to understand that the Swiss GSP was implemented in 1971 at the same time as EU GSP and Sri Lanka too was a pioneering beneficiary of it. Last year our annual trade increased by a very strong 65%. Therefore this is a good time to look at how Lankan exporters can use the Swiss GSP facility. Though Sri Lanka – Swiss bilateral trade is on a growing trend, there are vast unexplored potential and the GSP facility can help us to overcome them. According to the Department of Commerce, in 2016 total export to Switzerland was USD 102.23 Million.
Interestingly, electronic machinery and electrical controls have been the main items of Lankan exports to Switzerland last year–around 44 % of our total exports. By using the Swiss GSP, we can expand our export basket with other products including foods, fruits and vegetables as well.”
According to the Department of Commerce, overall bilateral trade between Switzerland and Sri Lanka leaped by 65 percent to USD 377 million in 2016 (from 2015’s USD 229 million).