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Sri Lankan government to set up a ‘digital free trade zone’ to help exporters

Sri Lankan government to set up a ‘digital free trade zone’ to help exporters

The government of Sri Lanka is reportedly looking at setting up a ‘digital free trade zone’ to help exporters, especially small businesses, to cut red tape and connect to global markets.
Similar initiatives are already in place in countries like China and Malaysia.
“Digitally connecting companies to global value chains is an important aspect of the government’s digital economy strategy,” M. C. L. Rodrigo, Secretary to Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology has been quoted as saying.
The initiative is aimed at making it easier for small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) to find buyers, and store, handle and ship goods, as well as deal with documentation and regulatory processes like customs.
Rodrigo has noted that the ‘digitally enabled free trade zone’ is expected to help the country achieve its target of rapidly increasing exports.
“The concept has been recognised in Sri Lanka’s digital economy strategy,” the Secretary has told a forum on e-commerce reforms organised by the International Trade Centre and the Ministry.
“The draft national digital policy which is still under review has recognised the need for an innovative economy with a focus on improved competitiveness,” Rodrigo has noted.
It was essential to increase penetration of e-commerce knowledge and skills, especially to the village level and grassroots level where most people live, he has said.
“That facilitation and crafting multi stakeholder partnerships in creating digitally enabled free trade zones are now being thought of.
“We recognise all types of business in the digital domain despite their sizes. Start-ups and freelancers are not left behind.”
According to reports, Malaysia recently launched a ‘digital free trade zone’ in collaboration with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which has similar initiatives in China and is setting up a regional distribution hub in the South East Asian nation.
The hub is to act as a centralised Customs clearance, warehousing and fulfillment or warehousing and logistics facility for the region in order to speed up clearance for imports and exports.

OSL take:

The proposed digital free zone in Sri Lanka would further boost the country’s exports sector, especially for the small businesses. Sri Lanka’s geographical positioning in the Indian Ocean and the many trade agreements as well as the trade concessions enjoyed by the country have placed the island’s exports sector in an advantageous position. Sri Lanka’s exports authorities are also engaged in many programmes to further uplift the country’s export industry. Therefore foreign businesses/investors could explore opportunities in Sri Lanka’s exports sector.

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Article Code : VBS/AT/06092019/Z_4

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