Sri Lanka will unveil one of the biggest initiatives in its international trade history when the Department of Commerce launches the World Bank supported Sri Lanka Trade Information Portal (SLTIP) on 20 July in Colombo.
“Our business community and other stakeholders will be provided with a useful tool to find the information necessary to facilitate their import-export activities” said the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen on 19 July addressing his top officials on the scheduled launch on 20 July.
Sri Lanka’s TIP is to be unveiled on the morning of July 20 at Kingsbury Hotel jointly by Minister Bathiudeen, (HE) Australian High Commissioner Bryce Hutchesson, World Bank Senior Trade Specialist Marcus Bartley Johns and many top officials from the government. It is hosted by the Department of Commerce in collaboration with the National Trade Facilitation Committee, and developed with support from the World Bank and Australian High Commission in Sri Lanka.
World Bank supported Trade Information Portals (TIP) across the world provide information that traders need to import and export goods, including information on permits, laws and taxes. TIP provides the much needed transparency which leads to lower trade costs and improved predictability, and it is a key objective of international agreements like the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). The World Bank Group has supported TIPs in more than a dozen countries (Vietnam, was the last country to join, prior to Sri Lanka’s joining on 20 July) using a custom-built software platform. TIP publishes all laws, regulations and procedures affecting trade while also functioning as enquiry points on trade, repositories of information on trade in services or non-tariff measures. Sri Lanka
“The portal will improve the predictability and transparency of the country’s business environment, and provide foreign and domestic investors with quick and timely access to trade rules and regulations. For the first time, the portal puts in one place laws, regulations, procedures and other measures affecting trade maintained by forty-two government agencies” said DG Commerce Sonali Wijeratne.
“The Sri Lanka Trade Information Portal aims to change the country’s business environment. With access to the right information at the right time, local businesses can confidently venture into international markets and help Sri Lanka’s economy realize a prosperous future,” said (HE) Australian High Commissioner Bryce Hutchesson.
“Trade is an important engine of growth for Sri Lanka and having fast and easy access to information on import and export procedures is crucial for traders and investors,” said World Bank Senior Trade Specialist Marcus Bartley Johns. “The portal is an essential piece of a larger, on-going effort by the government to enhance trade facilitation and attract foreign investments and the World Bank stands ready to continue to provide support to these important efforts.”
Some of SLTIP’s other features include: an overview of Sri Lanka’s economy, business startup process, import and export guide, as well as information on special economic areas, export processing zones, cross-border trade and GSP automation; international, regional and bi-lateral trade agreements to which Sri Lanka is a party, including applicable rules and requirements as well as associated benefits; a selection of websites of international organizations or institutions that can bring further support to overseas expansion and tools allowing exporters to perform trade potential analysis, desk research and market surveys.
The portal is also expected to improve trade regulations themselves, as stakeholders are now able to easily identify the complexity of current regulations and procedures when applied to commodities and to suggest areas of modernization and simplification.
SLTIP is a major step towards creating a conducive environment for doing Business in Sri Lanka. The Industry and Commerce Ministry, the World Bank and the Australian High Commission urged all relevant government agencies, the business community, and the media for their continued support in promoting and further enriching the trade portal.