Sri Lanka pushes apparel exports by successfully linking to global e-system


Rishad Bathiudeen (Minister of Industry and Commerce-left) and Dr. Neville Gunawardena (Director General- Department of Trade & Investment Policy-third from left) visit the ASYCUDA stall at Asia Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum 2012 (APTFF) held on 30 October 2012 at Galadari Hotel, Colombo.

In a significant development for Sri Lanka’s apparel industry, for the first time, Sri Lanka’s SME apparel exporters are to be linked to the much awaited global customs electronic system, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said in a statement.

"The dazzling result being the total realm of apparels, Sri Lanka’s topmost export earner, will be able to migrate to the global electronic customs regime," the ministry said.

"If our current preparations continue as planned, we can link our SME apparel exporters’ shipments to the ASYCUDA global e-system by May 2013. This could enhance our SME apparel sector exports thereby enhancing our $2.8 Bn apparel volume," said Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce, as quoted in the ministry press communiqué.

The SME apparel exporters themselves requested Minister Bathiudeen’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce to take new initiatives in this regard and as a result, more than 220 registered SME apparel manufacturers would benefit from ASYCUDA’s apparel export module to be commenced by Industry and Commerce Ministry in May ’13. In 2012, Sri Lanka’s apparel exports recorded $ 2.83 Bn earnings of which $1.53 Bn was from the US and $ 1.86 Bn was from the EU despite the challenging situation in these segments. World’s third largest retail giant TESCO is directly purchasing from Sri Lanka annually to the tune of $ 100 Mn. In Y2012, 71 SME garment exporters shipped $ 46.7 Mn apparel from Sri Lanka, showing strong unrealised growth potential they have. Among the leading such exporters were Crest Fashion Ltd, Queens Work Wear and FNTZ Garments.

ASYCUDA developed in Geneva by UNCTAD, is a computerised customs management system which covers most foreign trade procedures and handles manifests and customs declarations, accounting procedures, transit and suspense procedures. It operates on micro in a client server environment under UNIX and DOS operating systems and RDBMS Software. Industry Ministry’s initial implantation cost in this global system is a low amount of $15000.

"The current Proposed Shipment Declaration (PSD) format used by SME apparel exporters will change to electronic submission using the power of the Web after May ‘13" said an official of the Industry Ministry who detailed the process. "The BoI apparel exporters have already been integrated to ASYCUDA. We are taking the other segment of apparel exporters to this global system Not only cost savings in terms of time and money but speedier clearance and paperless process are among the accruing advantages" he said.

Once they are linked, the SME apparel exporters will not be required to submit their export shipment documentations called Proposed Shipment Declaration (PSD) format, in multiple copies -to various agencies such as Industry Ministry as well as Customs. Instead, by a single click of a mouse under ASYCUDA, can submit to all the agencies at once, immediately and receive export shipment clearance thereat.

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