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Sri Lanka exports need standardization to grow: expert

Updated: 2011-9-28 Source:

COLOMBO, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka's attempt to increase exports must be led by adherence to international standards and brand-building that will get world attention, an international expert said Tuesday.
Sri Lanka's economy is growing rapidly after a three-decade war ended in2009 but the country is still struggling to brand its main exports and break into non-traditional regional markets.

A target of 91 million U.S. dollars in export earnings has been set for 2011, the highest ever, but exports to China remain at only 1 percent while India also lags behind at 5 percent.

Studies have shown that following international standards can add as much as 1 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The International Organization for Standardizaation (IOS) Secretary General Rob Steele told Xinhua that the country has great potential to not only follow international standards but take its standards to the rest of the world.

"If you take a product like tea or garments, Sri Lanka has managed to reap significant economic benefits through maintaining high standards," he said

The next step would be to get these standards ratified by a global body and promote them to the rest of the world, he added, pointing out that this was how countries had become specialized at one product.

For this to take place, all stakeholder bodies including chambers of commerce and professional organizations must come together to promote standards within industry. He also called on the standards bodies of Sri Lanka to be legally empowered.

Proving conformity to standards would give Sri Lanka access to 160 countries that follow IOS standardization and would come at a time when local exports are experiencing strong growth