In the context of Sri Lanka's export basket being concentrated on a few products, the Department of Commerce, with the assistance of the Trade Officers based in Sri Lankan missions abroad and other business supporting organizations in Sri Lanka carry out an array of activities to expand and diversify the international market for Sri Lankan export products. While providing the main focus for the leading exporters to expand their market share in the international market through introduction of new export destinations and creating more conducive environment in existing markets, Trade Officers continued to assist the small and medium scale exporters to gain international market access for their products, especially through the Public Private Partnership Programme.
Playing a key role in promoting Sri Lankan products, the Trade Officers have organized more than 35 business fora in the respective countries during 2010. More than 40 inward trade delegations were also organized by them in 2010 and direct Business to Business promotional meetings were arranged for these delegations with the prospective Sri Lankan exporters. Trade Officers facilitated 14 outward delegations as well to their respective countries, and these delegations were provided the opportunity to meet potential importers in Business to Business meetings. In addition, Trade Officers have facilitated more than 300 individual business visits to Sri Lanka in 2010.
In line with the concept of "Mahinda Chintana", which emphasizes a 'national economy' based on indigenous resource-endowment, the Trade Officers have carefully selected a basket of indigenous Sri Lankan export products to be promoted in international markets. The strategy adopted by Trade Officers to promote Sri Lankan products is also expected to lay a strong foundation for establishing a sustainable export market for Sri Lankan products. Trade Officers have facilitated more than 300 trade inquiries based on this concept in 2010. The basket of potential export products, which were prioritized by them include:- coconut milk, coconut cream & powder, coconut oil, desiccated coconut, coir, geo- textile, coir carpets, coco peat, coir rugs, rice bran, rubber bands, natural rubber, tyres and tubes for bicycles and motor cycles, rubber mattresses, footwear, leather bags, porcelain products, tea, spices, goraka, vinegar, processed foods, sea food, fresh fish, jam, cordial, ginger powder, confectionery, biscuits, vanilla beans, fruits and vegetables, juggery, safety equipment, sausages, body protective wear, plastic wastes, handicrafts, paper products such as hand-made papers and greeting cards, water pumps, furniture, garments, chemicals, toys, disposable plastic items, gems and jewellery, reed ware, ballistic items, plastic items, work wear, packing material, fiber glass items, auyrvedic products, ceramic and porcelain ware etc., Selection of trade fairs was also made on the concept of "gaining market access for indigenous products" and Trade Officers have facilitated Sri Lanka's participation at more than 60 such international trade fairs in 2010.
The Trade Officers have contributed immensely in creating a receptive environment in international markets for Sri Lankan products especially through removing certain tariff and non-tariff barriers to exports. The Trade Officers have taken up many such issues directly with the respective governments in order to pave the way for unhindered access to Sri Lankan products.
Tourism was one of the areas, which gained immediate attention after the defeat of terrorism in the country. Recognizing the enormous potential in tourism sector, the Trade Officers launched a series of special programmes with the assistance of the Department of Commerce and the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau to promote Sri Lanka as an attractive tourist destination. The main strategies adopted by the Trade Officers to promote Sri Lanka as a tourist destination include; arranging special fora and conferences, arranging tourist groups to Sri Lanka, organizing Sri Lanka's participation at international tourism fairs, arranging media delegations to Sri Lanka, setting up tourism promotion councils, providing publicity through electronic and print media in the host country.
Trade Officers have been instrumental in attracting foreign direct investment to Sri Lanka especially after the defeat of terrorism. They have organized more than 50 promotional events to promote Sri Lanka as a potential investment destination in the South Asia. As a result of the continuous promotional activities, Trade Officers have been able to introduce more than 100 new investment project proposals to the Board of Investment (BOI) of Sri Lanka. Some of the investors have already started their operations in Sri Lanka, while many other proposals are at higher levels of negotiations.