COLOMBO: Sri Lanka is currently looking at a target for export earnings of 18 billion US dollars by 2020, State Minister of International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe said. In 2015, Sri Lanka originally expected a 50 billion dollar export target by 2020 and later reduced to 20 billion dollars amid sluggish export performance in the country. “We can speak of large numbers; but we don’t want to talk about impractical things,” Senasinghe told reporters Tuesday. He was speaking at a media conference ahead of Sri Lanka’s second national symposium to be held this week to develop a national export strategy. “With the GSP+ concessions, at least 18 billion dollars export earnings by 2020; we think it as a victory.” Last year, earnings from exports of 10.3 billion dollars reflected a decline of 2.2 percent, from 10.5 billion dollars in 2015, with declines in agricultural and industrial exports.
Sri Lanka’s international trade performance has been lackluster especially during the last decade, regressing to levels that were seen during the pre-liberalization era. In 2016, Sri Lanka’s trade openness was 36.5 percent, while exports relative to GDP reduced to a level of 12.7 percent. Malaysia had an export to GDP ratio of 67.5 percent in 2015, while Thailand was 54.2 percent and Vietnam 83.7 percent.