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27th June 2014

44th AGM Sri Lanka Shippers' Council 2014-2015

Sri Lanka Shippers' Council held its 44th Annual General Meeting on the 27th June 2014 at 5.30 p.m. at Earl's Court, Cinnamon Lakeside, Colombo followed by "the Post Business Session" and cocktails. . The Secretary to the Treasury, Ministry of Finance & Planning, Dr. P.B. Jayasundara was the Chief Guest and the key note speaker at the AGM. . Mr. Ashroff Omar, CEO of Brandix Lanka limited graced this occasion as the Guest of Honour. Mr. Sean Van Dort assumed responsibility as the Chairman of the Council for the year 2014/15. Thereafter, Mr. Nalin Silva and Mr. Chrisso De Mel were elected as 1st Vice Chairman and the 2nd Vice Chairman of the Council respectively. Mr. Dinesh De Silva stepped down as the Chairman of the Council after completing 2 successful years in the said capacity.

Speech by Dr. P.B.Jayasundara, Treasurer and Secretary to the Ministry of Finance.

Good evening to everybody. Thank you very much for the wonderful opening remarks. And I hope Sri Lankan media will carry your report in full. Because this is the kind of news this nation deserves. We are not asking for any propaganda, for the country's economy which is essentially in the hands of the private sector, home-grown private sector; nurtured by the many efforts made by His Excellency the President in recent times, deserve to have this message going out of Sri Lanka. As well as this message getting headline stories in our media.

The reason I say this is because, although it is true that we have many more concerns to be addressed but that does not mean what we have done should be undermined by anybody in Sri Lanka or by anybody elsewhere in Sri Lanka – as a nation.

So since I am speaking in front of the private sector and the media, as a citizen, as a professional, as a career public servant, I sincerely request to forget Sri Lanka wealth. If Sri Lanka needs to grow, government can do what it can do. But the rest the society must do. I am saying this message because last week, the Asian Development Bank President was here; he came after traveling to many countries and delivered a speech. His Eminency lectured at Niloga Academy of Financial studies and he spoke based on that. But he didn't have visibility in the country, because he didn't have time to go around the country. Talk to anybody, meet anyone or even meet the President. Or meet the private sector or even meet his own staff. After his speech, he would have met with some members of the civil society and researchers. Following morning, he had breakfast with the President and discussed matters of his concerns. The President was very frankly exchanging his views. After the breakfast he went to see the Economic Landscape in Sri Lanka such as the Port Authority. He noticed that changes that had taken place in that space. And on a positive note, he came to Kandy where I met him. And he went to the Temple for a short brief visit. He traveled with me along the Kandy – Matale road which is partly under construction. Around 7 pm in the night until 8:30 am to Kandalama without security. He spent time with me and our team, and his delegation. We had dinner at 11 pm and then we had a full day after. He said he had meetings on Friday, I don't know how that can be. Because we don't have meetings on Friday. But probably the charismatic chairman of the council might be sitting here think, we do have meetings on Fridays as well. We must do shipping! (laughs)

What he saw in newspapers on his way to Colombo, when he traveled on Mihin air, was not happening on the ground. Aluthgama and various other places. As if the country is on the verge of another chaos. That was all over HongKong. But he asked me ‘where is it'? He himself pointed out the Muslim villages. He got up that morning and then only he saw what a world this is. Because Kandalama is a place where the environment is blended, from there we went to the Dambulla Temple, he said he wanted to see caves. So once he saw those we came back to Sigiriya. All of his staff were discouraging him from climbing. He said he really wanted to do it, so we climbed with him all the way to the top.

From Sigiriya we came to Habarana, where we went to school and where he spoke to the kids there. We went to a village through a carpeted road. So we spent time there. He noticed all the changes. And from there we went to Alia, the new hotel which was built, a post-conflict hotel. Many were asking where the 2.5 million tourists were going to stay, this hotel is one such part of the project. Then from there we went through the Hadawela road – which was not part of the plan. From there we went to the A9 road. That section was built by the LTTE. So he got off the vehicle when he saw it. He raised questions as to how resettlements are done when roads are expanded. He was very convinced. The model is very convenient scale for a country of this development. From there he went to Kalawewa. He then went to Awkena, and he asked a series of questions. So he asked at Kalawewa that it was built by the Sri Lankan King and not the Britishers. He noticed the changed and from there we came through Jayamawatha, to Thambuthegama and other places along the way. By that time it was 9 pm and it was late. When I said goodbye to him, he asked me why our people were not proud of our country. And he sent me a memo this morning, handwritten, saying that this country will be the next miracle of Asia.

So that's the kind of story, not that somebody has to do it, but someone made an assessment. So when you delivered this speech, I was very encouraged. This story is one that the private sector should share with the world and since you are dealing with very influential decision making private sector, they will appreciate on a same ground that you articulated, the terminal handling charges for many years. I paid my tribute to the Lel Fernando, who then led this fight in 1988 and we worked together on this matter. It was not easy. I had been saying that is not something that is justifiable but I don't know if our own chambers know this. Whatever it is, on a same ground I would argue, speak loud and clear. And including Media. There were no human rights violations in Sri Lanka. The government must speak on this, you must speak on this. Because you have seen what not having peace in this country has denied to Sri Lanka. Our nation became a lagging economy, our nation was behind everybody. We were not committed to come up. And now, His Excellency the President has got that legacy right and that's the what we should articulate at the 44th AGM. Which is essentially established to secure thought it is said that in the interest of importers and exporters this $30 billion business – it is by listening to this chairman, that I felt proud as a citizen of Sri Lanka. That he stood for the interest of Sri Lanka. That is the kind of private sector we are looking for it.

Apparently you all consist of big business, Apparels $ 5 billion business and I am dreaming that this would be among the top 10 in the world in the next few years. Tea, motor vehicles, lot of ethical practices to be learned, petroleum imports and economy, pharmaceutical business. I hope we will have top class pharmaceutical companies coming up. These are big business, but among them there are small fish going around making nonsense also.

But shippers and their activities are no longer considered old fashion trade, it is shifting to global supply chain, from transshipment to value creating. Our government has enabled this.

So this 44th AGM is taking place at a time, when the country is poised to a new place of growth, with stability in the economic landscape which you can see. In the landscape we were since independence, since technically speaking until the President took charge. We were on a flat growth. That is what is called, South Asian Growth. You can see it in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and growth is slightly upwards, but that won't take us anywhere. We can see Indonesia, China and Malaysia with steep growth. Those are economic miracles. This is what the facts say. We will make our economic growth steeper and much more the next year.

If Sri Lanka's growth can be steeper as China, we are the world. So Mr. Chairman you have a task to perform, your community has a task to perform. The government has performed its tasks. The ball is in your court.

The government during the last 8 years, if our economic story is told in terms of facts, all the International and national indicators point to the argument that it is less risks. So that is what the economy management is all about. Our economy has grown over 7 percent. And 7 percent per annum growth is much more decent because our population is less than 1 percent. In many countries, the population is still going through between 1 and 2 percent, so for their economy to grow, they should reach 8-9 percent. When I entered this building I got an SMS that June inflation is 2.8 percent. International rates and by the last five months and this month, our inflation is below 5 percent. A single digit. So the government and CB can have a carnival. Monetary policy, financial stability is in place. Exchange rate is flexible, yet foreign exchange reveals that it is stable. Flexibility does not mean several fluctuations. It needs to be predictable. In fact that has come in light. International reserves are there.

And we are now, 9 billion dollar reserves. The dream is 10, since we had that rate. Compare all these numbers with places where banks have collapsed, inflation had gone out of control, all those sorts of problems. Our current account deficient had declined. Tourism is no longer a $300 business, last year it was $1.7 billion and this year we are predicting $2.7 billion. Those who were questioning the target, the numbers are going up. Now somebody questioned the statistics. I was shocked that these intellectuals question facts. I say don't question the stats, go to the managers, and ask them the occupancy now. In an off season, Kandalama owner says he can't manage. So this is what the economy is all about. Overseas remittance is bigger than yours. The overseas remittances which are 6.4 billion, we are looking at 10 billion. My dream is that the Apparel businesses grow in parallel to the overseas markets. So I hope this year the business will hit 6.4 billion. IT exports which was a figure that was measurable in 2005, now 790 million dollar business now which is going to become 1 billion soon. And countries literacy no longer measured by general measures. IT has gone 0 to 40 percent. So take this message. Take employment. We are no longer talking unemployment. 95.5% of the population is employed. That should be the strategy. My predications are no bad, although I am not economist on these numbers. 95% of the houses have access to electricity. The President gave strict instructions that by the end of 2014 every single household should have electricity. You don't have power cuts now. You went through turmoil, when tensions in our minds. But so far no power cuts for last 9 years. I have met you all in different chambers, I remember many asking for diesel generators. Now it no longer comes to the treasures. We had 100.2 percent debt. But it has come down. We borrow, we borrow comfortably. Yesterday Sri Lankan airlines borrowed at the cheapest rate. But reason is the government has created much more decent assets. You don't create ports, expressways for tomorrows use. You create for the next 100 years. I don't think the majority of people understand these statistics. Look at country and its ranked. On the 21st out of 50 leading locations for delivery of BPO. This maybe the soil that may accommodate the next Bangalore or the next silicon Valley. Housemaids stay is over, now only 33% go. Healthcare system is quite sophisticated. Much better than Obamacare. WE have 75 years of life expectancy and multi dimensional poverty is declining.

Because the country has a vision. I have been seeing this for several years. Country could not get a vision in place. Without a nation, a country will not have growth. People may have taken it lightly or cynically. But it is happening and its here. It was expressed in 10 year goal and now five years interval. We create unstoppable Sri Lanka 2020. To achieve this vision, the infrastructure is critical. Nothing but on this infrastructure will you see private investments. And that is what in 2005, this is the story, we have a triple AAA economy, animal husbandry, we need to create livelihood among local economy. The President believes that no country will be successful unless the entire strategy is built on an inclusive strategy. And that is rural centric. Every village has to be sufficiently empowered.

Development is investment. There is no debate over that. It can come from public or private or joint. Some investments are long. You want to build roads, for FTA agreements. There is private investments, you may do water projects, Aqua Fresh, entrepreneurs branded it. Then we have private-public, here is our Port chairman, JCT, SAATT and whatever other T. This is how we are planning, we had less than 3 percent public investment. And now we are on a 6.5 journey. What the are powers of development, roads, connected cities, irrigation, ports, exports procession zones, tourisms corridors and knowledge based activities coming up. Here I am going to run through these slides. Here the energy diversification. You don't need to import diesel. We have 3 coal power plants, transmission is being built. And we are going further wind mill and solar. These are the projects on the ground. Similarity expressways, we need roads. You need to travel quickly. Today the whole country has a excellent road network, where all the cities are connected. In 2016, we can just drive anywhere. These roads were never there. Ports, the whole country has a different landscape. If you want transshipment Colombo- industrial ports – Hambantota. The ports are internally connected from each other. Then we have connecting all global destinations are connected. Irrigation, the President decided that every un-irrigated land is to be irrigated in some way. No water will be permitted to drop to the sea, it will be circled throughout the country. We need to drink good quality water. From KKS in those days. From all the districts, there's water. The President decided that the same way he provided water to each household in Sri Lanka he likes to see by 2016 every household have access to quality drinking water. Connected cities, we have a good number of strategic cities. High value exportation zones. Not only cricket, everything has to happen on this ground. Storage facility, a country need that. Even inside the country, you all only know the ports but if you go to Anuradhapura we have built metric tones of storage. So having done all this, we would like to see you all use it. Our GDP was 21 % we like you to raise it to 31%. How can this happen? Do all these things. Why should BOI waste time for $1 billion reserves giving tax investments? We don't need these kinds of things, we have the facilities.

Here is the next landscape, so many property developments lead to more investments. This is the kind of landscape you will see (Points out to the slides)

That is the kind of investments, the rest of the things happens. If someone builds a road, the restaurants will come up. That is part of it. Look at the industrial strategy. How you put your money.

This is my story to Ashraff when I met him so many years ago, we were here and now we are here at this point (points out to slide)

Not only are you all ethical producers, you are also environmentally sound. High tech. Sanitary conditions, so much. Sometimes when you travel there people ask if its an Apparel factory or hotel. That is what people are asking. You don't need cheap labor. That is the journey. Medium low and high technology industries. Now we are in this transition. Mr Mangala Yapa retired but before he did, he imported two ships. And do you know how I found out? When I was going through the figures at Central Bank, the exports had gone up, so I wondered how. Before customs imports something, I know. Nobody were able to explain what happened. But we soon found out that the two ships.

Now he is available to government. So the kind of export market we are looking. We need the primary sector to provide the raw materials, no more cheap labor. Skilled human resources. Now we have a skilled education sector to produce thousands of skilled labors. In many sectors, like tourism, ship building etc then we have advanced machinery which we need to import. Then we need to have a good macro economy, research, budgets. You manufacture and sell, not here. Sectors are coming up. See how the labor force is dependent on this sector. See the transshipment activities that are coming up. See the Galle Port which is providing competition. Sri Lanka Port Authority is no longer a monopoloy, he has to compete with these guys. (shows slides) We have all these facilities. So that's why the President after investing on a systematic basis through many models and reform initiatives. He spoke of the way forward. And that was to create the shipping corporation back again. Some of those businesses, petroleum, fertilizers, these make another shipping line viable. We are talking over 10 billion just lying. So it has to be about exploring the economy. Here business and we need a State of the art Ocean University. The president had this in mind for sometime. Establishment of a merchant shipping authority.

Terminal handling charges. I know there are corrupt practices, but it can be changed. Compete on decent grounds. Compete by practicing good standards. We want maritime education, ensure professional skilled development. We have not wasted tax payers money. Tax credit for local suppliers to engage. We will not fully open shipping industries. We believe that many will graduate to other business.

We have new investment climates,off short trades and so much. Flexible loans. We can accommodate many new things coming up. We accommodate new ideas. We have strategic investment laws to find out new players. China free trade agreement will be signed. We are also looking at Japan and Korea. Here is a world where you are connected. Name anybody and we are in the centre. So now in the President's vision, we are in the comfort zone.

Remember these are not my stats; these are all international, because you all don't take us seriously. Global space index, among them Japan, China, S. Korea. We need not be ahead of America or Europe. They are on the other side of the world. Here are the at the top. Global service index, development index we are on top.

So Sri Lanka is big. The story that Sri Lanka is a little island is wrong. That is what I want to prove. At the time our population grew at 2 percent. So our potential was smaller. 7.8 percent growth for this year. What is the consensus that IMF guys come here. We pay their loans now. But they say Sri Lanka has achieved noticeable progress in many fronts. World Bank says the poverty has dropped. ADB says Sri Lanka has achieved remarkable strategy. UN says except one party, says that progress is remarkable in human development. The outlook is positive. General consensus is that Sri Lanka is success story.

So ladies and gentleman here is a country that has entered a journey towards becoming a miracle. And that's because there is a plan, carefully calculated and strategy based on vision. Now it should be capitalized. Earlier doubts weather it will work is no longer relevant. Shippers council which is $30 billion economy straight way. Large percentage of global networking are must to ensure that Sri Lanka will succeed in the Asian age that is before us.

So with those remarks, let me thank the Shippers council for inviting me to deliver this speech at the 44th AGM. The 44th AGM should be a new chapter for you to make Sri Lanka a miracle in Asia.

Speech by Out Going Chairman Mr. Dinesh De Silva

Members of the head table, Committee Members, past Chairmen, Distinguish guests, Ladies & Gentleman.

Firstly, I would like to convey my sincere thanks to all present this evening for our 44th Annual General meeting and we are indeed honored and privileged to have you with us on this special occasion.

Ladies & Gentlemen, I have had the privilege of managing this council during the past period with new Business Challenges. We all know that our industry is continuously changing due to changes in Global Commerce.

Global economic activities are getting strengthened and is expected to improve further in 2014 & 15. However there is increased financial volatility in all market economies. We in Sri Lanka need to continuously monitor these external changes and need to grab the opportunities first time, as there are many other countries who may want to do the same thing.

We are happy to note that our Government has a clear vision towards the future growth of this country. Heavily investing in infrastructure like Air ports, Sea Ports, Port expansions with more facilities, building capacity to attract volumes, upgrading road conditions & building Highways are some visible signs of future progress in Logistics & shipping in Sri Lanka.

Further, Governments efforts in taking bold decisions to reform the existing laws to make it beneficial to the trade are commendable. Especially beginning of this year, amending the Merchant Shipping Act to meet modern demands of the trade was remarkable in addressing some long standing unfair trade practices including the trade battle on THC. This is a huge achievement for our trade & Sri Lanka Shippersitemid Council is extremely happy and proud to be a strong stake holder during the long journey in lobbying against the unfair trade practices. Our sincere appreciation & thanks to His Excellency the president Mahinda Rajapakse, Secretary to Treasury Dr. Jayasundara and to all other policy makers who supported the timely reforms.

Ladies & Gentleman,

Our GDP growth rates are encouraging. It is moving up from 7.3% to 7.8% this year & obviously target much higher next year. In order to achieve this, SME sector should actively grow making use of the current available facilities. We as a council is continuously looking at connecting the disconnect SME sector parties & helping them to grow. In order to do that, we are closely working with all Government authorities to remove the bottle necks and cumbersome procedures which are hindering importers & exporters and we are happy that we have been largely successful in facilitating the trade together with authorities.

Ladies & Geltleman, At this time I wish to thank specially the DGC Customs & Ports Authority Chairman and their teams for their tireless efforts in helping us to resolve trade related matters.

Also, our Council has offered scholarships to students as a part of our capacity building initiative together with, CINEC Maritime Campus-City Branch, who is a Winner of -World Class Global Performance Excellence Award 2012. We started this project last year & happy to say it continuing this year too. I wish to express my since thanks to Mr Lalith Edirisinghe, Head of School, Capt Ajith Peiris & Mr Russell Juriansz for making this project a success.

As a trade association, our highest priority is to facilitate trade. According to the latest LPI rankings, we are in the 89th place and we need to seriously evaluate the areas for improvement and should focus fully on improving, and to become among the best.

Improvement is a journey and trade need to move on. We as professionals in the industry should be able to look for the right solutions for the issues and make proposals to the authorities . Private sector is the growth engine of the country and they have to be facilitated without delay. More and more wider consultation should happen across the trade to find better solutions. Full implementation of e-commerce & Single window concept, for the trade should be fully focused.

Also the industry has continuing challenges in handling the rising operational cost & trade disputes. The council has been working with DGMS in resolving current issues and need to complete the balance work speedily.

In this context, we believe Shippers Council has a major role to play in protecting Shippersitemid interest and also to maintain a very cordial relationship with our most important service providers. I believe we have worked positively with the relevant stake holders to resolve these issues and have handled these challenges efficiently & effectively. Also, we look forward to work more closely with SL Customs, SL Ports Authority & other government institutions to handle our trade related issues more efficiently in the future.

It is important for all of us to remember, that we have always unresolved matters which are directly impacting import, export business. Our shippersitemid Council is committed to take up these matters with the relevant authorities as otherwise these will remain as trade barriers.

Dear members, I expect you to highlight the operational constrains to the council and I am sure that the council will be happy to take up all trade related issues with the relevant authorities ensuring a level playing field.

Before I conclude, I wish to thank my 1st Vice chairman, Sean Van Dort & the 2nd VC Mr. Nalin Silva and all the other committee members, for the support & assistance given during my term, Past chairmen, Product associations, members, Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Harin Malwatte Secretary General, Mrs Alikie Perera deputy Secretary General, efficient secretaries for their Secretarial work, and for the numerous services provided by the Chamber during my term. I must also mention that Mr. Harin Malwatte is retiring this month & wish thank him for all his guidance given to the council & wish him all the best in his all future endeavors.

Also a very special word of thanks for our secretaries, Manori Dissanayeka and Manjula Maldeniya for the enthusiasm and for the perseverance shown, towards the council activities in addition to their very supportive secretarial functions during the year. They have been a great strength to our council activities always.

Finally I wish Mr Sean Van Dort, the new chairman and his new committee all the best and to continue the journey with success.

Thank you

Speech by Incoming Chairman Mr. Sean Van Dort

Our Chief Guest Dr P.B Jayasundera Secretary to the Treasury, Ministry of Finance & Planning, Mr. Ashroff Omar the Chief Executive Officer of Brandix Lanka limited our Guest of Honour, Past Presidents of the Sri Lanka Shippers' Council, Heads of Government Agencies, Distinguished guests and friends

On behalf of the SLSC, I extend to you a warm welcome to the post business session of the 44th Annual General meeting of the council, we are indeed privileged to have Dr P B Jayasundera accepting our invitation as our Chief Guest along with Mr. Ashroff Omar who is present to day as our guest of honour.

Sir, with the advent of peace, political stability, infrastructure development and more importantly regulatory reforms, we are now witnessing economic progress in all frontiers. As the Council representing the Shippers of this country, I thought it's appropriate to take a few moments to reflect on the past that has propelled us to the present moment in time.

On one hand our gallant security forces were engaging a ruthless element that was trying to divide our motherland; on the other hand our Government was confronted by international pressure to halt the humanitarian relief effort that was pregnant with a vision to eradicate war and bloodshed once and for all from Sri Lanka. However, during this time, you together with the authorities under the direction of H E the President continued to create a conducive environment for economic development.

In the meantime, the importers and exporters of this country were still facing a competitive issue in the international market as a result of unethical, anti-competitive, non-market friendly behaviour of some service providers who were imposing various charges and surcharges on the trade, even though they were not providing a service to us. In other words, they have contracted with one party and recovering such cost from us for providing a service under the guise of nominated service providers. We struggled approximately for 18 long years, without having a proper forum to submit our case who was willing to listen to our grievances.

Sir, for years we suffered. Each time we brought up the issue, we were told to adjust our sales contracts whilst not looking into the contractual obligations of the transport contracts. We were shown the international commercial terms. Therefore, Sir, we took up the challenge, and commenced our homework before approaching you and the authorities. Sir, we travelled to Canada in the 2008 and made a presentation to the Global Shippers' Forum in Montreal where the world's strongest customers and trading houses are found. We realised that they are not facing such problems and those countries have very strict regulatory measures to protect exporters, manufacturers and consumers.

At the Montreal Forum, GSF agreed for us to present a paper through the Asian Shippers' Council for the same to be ratified in London in 2010. In London, the proposal submitted by the Asian Shippers' Council was agreed upon by the global body and they, including the United States and Europe decided to support our changes at the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris.

We submitted our drafts, presentations etc., to the Paris Drafting Committee of the ICC and convinced the rationale to be in line with best practices in the world, taking into consideration the developments in the containerised cargo. The ICC Drafting committee incorporated in their new guidelines in the INCOTERMS 2010 publication, which provided clarity and identified proper terms to be used in the containerised cargo reflecting the actual position.

Sir, it is only then that we came to you. You will appreciate that we did not request the Government to interfere in fixing prices or charges, but to recognise the fact that such charges are part of the freight and we requested to provide a regulatory mechanism to bring transparency and accountability to establish fair trade practices and to avoid uncompetitive behaviour of stronger parties.

Sir, we are fully aware that since 2010 you have been studying this matter, understood the rationale and brought about the regulatory mechanism to bring about transparency which the world has now accepted and given credibility.

Having reached this historical landmark, we in fact elevated this to the next level by creating awareness of this mechanism within the world's recognised shipping bodies. When some of our service providers were painting a bleak future claiming that there will be a serious negative impact on our export revenue since buyers will move away and no shipping opportunities will be available in the port of Colombo if this regulation is continued to be enforced. Sir, you may not be aware that some of our service providers in fact went to the extent of suggesting to create an artificial space crunch to pressurise the government to reverse the regulation.

In fact Sir, we had a serious difficulty with the British Shippers' Council who were influenced by a leading buyer of Sri Lanka who were misinformed by certain service providers and made a statement that Sri Lanka was corrupting the internationally accepted INCOTERMS quoting our piece of legislation and complained to the Global Shipper's Forum that this should not be supported. We intervened and explained our position and the principles behind our law to the Global Shippers' Forum. We explained that it is not the Government or the Exporters and Importers of Sri Lanka who were violating this law but the unethical behaviour of trading houses and nominated service providers who were violating the INCOTERMS and principles of contracts of carriage, and the British Shippers' Council has now understood the ethical and rationale principles in this law.

Sir, I personally represented Sri Lanka Shippers' Council at the Asian Shippers' Council forum in Shanghai in 2013 and the Global Shippers' Council in Los Angeles in January 2014, and it is my privilege to inform that the Secretary General of the Global Shippers' Forum, Chris Welsh said:

I quote “Shippers in Africa, Asia and South America have now called time on these unacceptable shipping practices which long ago disappeared in European, North American and liner shipping trades in other more developed economies. As part of a coordinated global campaign, the GSF will take the matter up with the main political, UN and other international agencies such as the African Union, UNCTAD, WTO, OECD, ASEAN and MERCOSUR. In addition we will support the implementation of the kind of national legislation introduced in Sri Lanka to deal with this widespread problem”. Unquote

It is also encouraging to note that the spirit of more ethical service providers are now adhering to the new regulations, particularly multi nationals who are exposed to the international best practices, while an unscrupulous few are still trying to dodge such clear regulations.

Additionally, Sir, the efforts taken by us with the clear direction of our Government was well appreciated by 18 countries of the Union of African Shippers' Council, Brazil, Pakistan and India. So much so, these entire Shippers' Councils in those countries have requested and were provided with this piece of our legislation. Furthermore, no lesser person than the Secretary to the Ministry of Commerce of India during a recent visit to Sri Lanka has met the Director General of Merchant Shipping and carried out extensive discussions on this legislation as the Indian importers and exporters too are experiencing similar situations.

Given these facts, Sir, we are extremely proud that H E the President, you and the authorities have set the best example on the necessity for government intervention, at the right place, right time and with the right spirit, without interfering in the market, whilst protecting the interest of the trade so as to ensure that unequal bargaining power of one party will not distort free and fair trade.

I am also pleased to report to you Sir, that all major buyers, particularly of the apparel industry that I represent, are now adhering to provisions in the law of our country and a smooth flow of exports is witnessed. We do engage and bargain with our buyers and have come to an understanding, and the position we took is that, as ethical manufacturers we are required to abide by our law and similarly being ethical trade partners, they should follow suit.

Sir, while introducing this regulation, you have been generous and conscious about our small and medium service providers and permitted to charge a delivery order fee, but, unfortunately a segment of the service providers are attempting to misuse this facility. Sir, the situation has been corrupted to such an extent where certain trade associates are still trying to subvert justice and trying to continue these unfair practices without being innovative, creative and efficient to differentiate their services in the market but challenging the authorities.

We are aware that you have already set in motion the mechanism to resolve this issue and we believe that nobody will be given permission to violate the basic principle that cost can be recovered only from the party who is contracting for such services and no other. This is the basic principle enshrined in this legislation. This vision of the Government should not be permitted to be tarnished or manipulated by anybody, be it big or small players.

Sir, my desire in elaborating the above was to emphasize that the reform agenda that you have carried out on the direction of H E the President has created a historical landmark, not only in this country but beyond boundaries. Similar regulatory mechanisms were earlier found only in the western world, but today Sri Lanka has taken the lead to introduce these best practices to the entire Asian and African regions. Sir, I may say it is yet another first of its kind in this part of the world and we thank you for all support extended.

Sir, we need to request your attention to the area of E-Commerce. The Shippers' Council is working very closely with the Customs, SLPA and BOI. We are delighted that on the basis of directions given by you, and more fully described in a number of budget proposals, in the previous years, we the exporters effective July 2014 will pass our export documentation online, connecting all these three stakeholders. This is another trade facilitation measure that is now introduced by our Government and it will further improve our competitiveness in international trade.

Sir, we look forward to the full implementation of electronic documentation on imports as well, which is now being developed by the Department of Customs.

Ladies & Gentlemen, I made an effort to elaborate the beneficiary policy framework that has been created by the Government for our membership engaged in industry, imports and exports. We are confident that as a result of this supportive policy framework which empowers and enables us to reach the expected targets for an export turnover of US$ 20 bn by 2020. It would be a reality and not a dream. We, the exporters and importers of Sri Lanka pledge our full support in this journey and place our confidence with the authorities.

Sir, before I conclude, I wish to congratulate the Government on its proposal to establish a fully fledged Merchant Shipping Authority in order to meet the demands of modern maritime transportation and the maritime hub aspirations of our motherland. We would like to be a party in the deliberations of the development of this authority.

I thank you Sir for your kind presence and accepting our invitation, and welcome all of you in the audience on this occasion.

DailyFT – Article on 27th June 2014

LBO – Article on 28th June 2014

Ceylon Today – Article on 30th June 2014

Daily News – Article on 30th June 2014

Daily News – Article on 01st July 2014

DailyFT – Article on 01st July 2014

DailyFT – Article on 03rd July 2014

Daily News – Article on 03rd July 2014

Sunday Times – Article on 06th July 2014

Sunday Leader – Article on 06th July 2014

Sunday Leader – Article on 06th July 2014

DailyFT – Article on 08th July 2014

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