An extensive discussion with experts in the fields of Information Technology and International Trade Agreements about the problems in the respective fields and the possible solution measures was held on 09.06.2023 in the ‘Sectoral Oversight Committee on Alleviating the Impact of the Economic Crisis’, which was convened under the chairmanship of Gamini Waleboda.
The need for a National Trade Policy is emphasized
Many professionals pointed out during the committee discussion that Sri Lanka has suffered a lot of losses due to international trade agreements signed without a national trade policy.
The National Front of Professionals submitted a proposal to the Sectoral Committee which includes the central features that should be included in a future national trade policy. Accordingly, the Chairman of the Sectoral Committee, Gamini Waleboda, assured the professionals that he is ready to cooperate with the necessary steps to bring about such a policy while acknowledging the need for a national trade policy.
The former President Gotabya Rajapakse-led government terminated the earlier national trade policy. formulated by Yahaplanya Government and to be replaced with a new national trade policy.
The current government has decided to resume trade negotiations with a target to sign a number of FTAs and PTAs next year. Especially, apparel exporters have urged the government to fast-track FTA negotiations including with India and China to diversify exports with U.S. and European markets entering into recession.
A setback for the IT sector due to tax reforms
It was revealed that due to the recently introduced tax reforms, professionals in the IT sector are tempted to leave the country and many IT companies are trying to move their business operations to other countries.
The IT sector is a service sector that makes a significant contribution to Sri Lanka’s economy. In 2019, the income generated by it was USD 1.5 billion which is a contribution of 2% of the GDP. There is a high potential to increase this revenue further. There is a high demand for IT professionals in Sri Lanka in the world. The IT sector’s contribution to India’s GDP is as high as 8%. A proposal was presented to the committee by the experts in the field to raise the IT sector in Sri Lanka to such a high-income generation status.