November 12, 2019
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    Lanka emphasizes on utilizing e-commerce to boost South Asia regional trade

    October 16, 2018

    Sri Lanka's Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen points out that while South Asia is emerging as one of the fast-growing regions in the world and is expected to play a dynamic role in shaping the 'Asian Century', regional trade in South Asia remains below potential.

    "The share of trade taking place between South Asian countries is only 5 percent in comparison to South Asia's overall trade with the world at 20 percent," said the Sri Lankan Minister at a recent workshop in Colombo.

    Addressing the opening session of "SAARC CCI's Regional Workshop on E-Commerce" organized by Islamabad-based SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SAARC CCI) at Mt Lavinia Hotel on 13 October, Minister Bathiudeen said to boost trade within the region, SAARC is working to go hi tech.

    The Minister explained that despite low trade within the region, there are great potentials for using information and communication technologies to contribute to social and economic progress across South Asian Countries.

    He noted that although by international standards the e-commerce sector is in its early stage in South Asia, it is growing at a fast pace and provides a profitable and untapped market for businesses and investors within and across South Asia.

    "The need of the hour is for countries in the region to embrace e-commerce fully as it will enhance their economic and social development. Inadequate infrastructure acts as a major obstacle for e-commerce in this region. The governments need to invest in legal financial logistical and telecommunication infrastructure which is the backbone of any e-commerce initiative. Despite the challenges, the e-commerce and related sectors in the South Asian countries offer huge business and investment opportunities."

    The Minister offering Sri Lanka's fullest support to SAARC-CCI to take the initiative of enhancing e-commerce forward said Sri Lanka is also fast catching up on the global e-commerce trend."These Colombo sessions overview existing strategies, user experience, discovery, and metrics in current e-commerce business models in the South Asian region and beyond" said President of SAARC CCI Ruwan Edirisinghe. "The session also explores best practices and how to creatively collaborate on strategies, and e-commerce landscape and current trends. Importantly the session evaluates the current policy frameworks on e-commerce and even devising of an e-commerce policy guideline, roadmap and initiatives for SAARC CCI."

    In 2015 the Sri Lanka e-commerce sector grew by a mere one percent and is now expected to grow by four percent in the coming years. The total revenue from Sri Lankan E-commerce sector was estimated at US$ 8 million in 2016. Sri Lankan e-commerce experts now say that it will grow to US$ 4 billion by 2020.

    The interdisciplinary, high profile event to explore the prospects of e-commerce as a medium of trade in the region was joined by South Asia Regional Director of Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF) Ronald Meinardus, Country Representative of FNF Ms Sagarica Delgoda, SAARC CCI's former Senior VP Nawaz Rajabdeen, Secretary General of SAARC CCI Ajith Perera, and more than 20 representatives from SAARC countries.

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