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Sri Lanka: Company Perspectives - An ITC Series on Non-tariff Measures

Report by ITC, 2011

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This report assesses the impact of Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) on the business sector. It is based on a large-scale survey conducted in Sri Lanka. The survey covers companies directly reporting burdensome NTMs and the reasons why they consider them to be trade barriers. The paper analyzes the survey findings and compares them to other sources on NTMs to identify regulatory, procedural and infrastructural obstacles in Sri Lanka and in its partner countries. Furthermore it outlines policy options for each sector including clothing, textiles, chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products; tea and other agro-based products. The report also includes NTM classification and bibliographical references.

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TECHNICAL
PAPER


SRI LANKA:
COMPANY PERSPECTIVES


AN ITC SERIES ON
NON-TARIFF MEASURES






SRI LANKA:
COMPANY PERSPECTIVES


AN ITC SERIES ON
NON-TARIFF MEASURES





SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


ii MAR-11-207.E


Abstract for trade information services


ID=42449 2011 C-45 144 SRI


International Trade Centre (ITC)
Sri Lanka: Company Perspectives  An ITC Series on Non-Tariff Measures.
Geneva: ITC, 2011. xvi, 93 pages (International Trade Centre Series on Non-Tariff Measures)
Doc. No. MAR-11-207.E


First in a series of country reports assessing the impact of Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) on the business
sector, based on a large-scale survey conducted in Sri Lankan with companies directly reporting
burdensome NTMs and the reasons why they consider them to be trade barriers  analyzes survey
findings and compares them to other sources on NTMs to identify regulatory, procedural and
infrastructural obstacles in Sri Lanka and its partner countries; outlines policy options for each sector
including clothing, textiles, chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products; tea and other agro-based
products, includes NTM classification and bibliographical references (pp. 91-93).


Descriptors: Sri Lanka, Non-Tariff Measures, Trade Policy, SMEs.


For further information on this technical paper, contact Ms. Olga Skorobogatova (ntm@intracen.org).




English


The International Trade Centre (ITC) is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United
Nations.


ITC, Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland (www.intracen.org)


Views expressed in this paper are those of consultants and do not necessarily coincide with those of
ITC, UN or WTO. The designations employed and the presentation of material in this paper do not
imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the International Trade Centre
concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the
delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.


Mention of firms, products and product brands does not imply the endorsement of ITC.


This technical paper has not been formally edited by the International Trade Centre.


Digital images on the cover: © iStockphoto and © West Africa Trade Hub


© International Trade Centre 2011


ITC encourages the reprinting and translation of its publications to achieve wider dissemination. Short
extracts of this technical paper may be freely reproduced, with due acknowledgement of the source.
Permission should be requested for more extensive reproduction or translation. A copy of the reprinted or
translated material should be sent to ITC.




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E iii


Foreword


I am pleased to present the first in a series of reports from the International Trade Centre (ITC) devoted to
non-tariff measures (NTMs). This series directly addresses the needs expressed by our beneficiaries – in
every ITC client survey, NTMs are reported as a top priority requiring ITC support and technical
assistance.


For maximum impact in this challenging area of work, ITC works closely with other international
institutions. Together with UNCTAD, the World Bank and the African Development Bank, ITC creates
inventories of government regulations and disseminates them to facilitate trade by improving the
transparency of international trade and by providing relevant information to exporters and importers.


In complement, ITC has initiated this NTM series, stemming from ITC’s mandate and comparative
advantage – its close relations with the private sector in developing countries. ITC organizes large-scale
surveys in several countries each year – from Sri Lanka and Thailand, to Burkina Faso, Morocco, Peru and
Paraguay. The surveys allow the business community – especially small enterprises – to voice their
concerns. Companies with firsthand experience addressing NTMs provide invaluable insights for
policymakers, trade support institutions and the international community.


Powered by the survey data, the national reports of this series measure the impact of NTMs on the private
sector and identify burdensome NTMs that need to be streamlined or eliminated. The results of our NTM
surveys around the world confirm that NTMs pose a major challenge to market access.


The results for Sri Lanka, analyzed in this publication, are a case in point. Enterprises in Sri Lanka report
difficulties with a broad range of measures, in particular with technical testing, inspection and certification,
which are required to demonstrate conformity with sanitary and phytosanitary measures. They must cope
with a lack of trade-related infrastructure and burdensome procedural requirements. Strikingly, the
problems lie on both sides of the border – in partner counties and in Sri Lanka itself – limiting the
competitiveness of enterprises, especially smaller ones, and their ability to integrate into the global
economy and maximize the benefits of international trade.


I invite you to read this report and the forthcoming ones to get firsthand views on the topic provided by the
private sector. The NTM series brings a novel perspective on the impact of non-tariff measures on
exporters and importers, and suggests realistic options to mitigate their impact by streamlining policies
affecting trade and by removing procedural obstacles. The information on NTMs and their impact is
required by enterprises as well as policy makers. The identification of a problem is a first step in its
solution.












Patricia Francis
Executive Director
International Trade Centre




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iv MAR-11-207.E





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Acknowledgements


First and foremost, the International Trade Centre (ITC) expresses its appreciation to the enterprises and
stakeholders that agreed to be interviewed in order to share their experiences with trade barriers.


This report was written by Olga Skorobogatova and Christian Knebel in the Market Analysis and Research
Section of ITC. The work was supervised by Mondher Mimouni, Chief ad-interim.


The survey implementation was managed by Carolin Averbeck with the support of the ITC non-tariff
measures team. The interviews were executed by the Lanka Market Research Bureau Limited (LMRB).
Graduate students from the School of International Public Policy of Columbia University (United States)
conducted additional stakeholder interviews and research. Benjamin Prampart and the ITC data
processing team contributed tables and statistics for the report. Lionel Fontagné and Ursula Hermelink are
to thank for substantive comments and suggestions.


Sarath Rajapatirana from Sri Lanka provided valuable feedback with extensive country expertise. Dorothy
van Schooneveld greatly assisted in editing the publication.


The ITC Communications and Events team is to thank for their help in finalizing the publication, particularly
Natalie Domeisen and Isabel Droste.


The financial contribution of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) is gratefully
acknowledged.





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Contents


Foreword iii 
Acknowledgements v 
Acronyms xi 
Executive summary xiii 


Introduction 1 


Chapter 1  Trade and trade policy overview of Sri Lanka 5 
1.  General economic introduction and sector composition 5 


1.1.  Gross domestic product and public finance 5 
1.2.  Sector contributions and employment 5 


2.  Trade patterns 6 
2.1.  Composition and development of commodity trade 7 
2.2.  Export destinations and diversification 8 


3.  Trade policy 9 
3.1.  Tariffs and Trade Agreements 10 
3.2.  Non-tariff measures applied by Sri Lanka 13 


4.  National trade and development strategies 14 
4.1.  Trade promotion and facilitation 14 
4.2.  National development framework and infrastructure 15 


Chapter 2  Non-tariff measures survey methodology and implementation
in Sri Lanka 17 


1.  Survey implementation 17 
1.1.  Timeline and principal counterparts 17 
1.2.  Survey process and modalities 17 
1.3.  Sample frame and selection strategy 17 
1.4.  Survey coverage of the phone screens and face-to-face interviews 18 
1.5.  Phone screens 18 
1.6.  Face-to-face interviews 19 
1.7.  Implementation challenges 20 


2.  Survey representativeness 21 


Chapter 3  Survey results on companies’ experiences with non-tariff measures 23 
1.  Aggregate results 23 


1.1.  Affected sectors 23 
1.2.  Major problems with non-tariff measures and applying countries 24 
1.3.  Challenges due to procedural obstacles and inefficiencies of the trade-related business


environment 27 




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2.  Tea 29 
2.1.  The vital role of the tea sector 29 
2.2.  Affected companies 29 
2.3.  Non-tariff measures applied by partner countries 31 
2.4.  Non-tariff measures applied by Sri Lanka 32 
2.5.  Procedural obstacles and inefficient trade-related business environment 33 
2.6.  Concerns of Sri Lankan importers 35 
2.7.  Summary and policy options 35 


3.  Other agricultural and agro-based products 36 
3.1.  Affected companies 36 
3.2.  Non-tariff measures applied by partner countries 37 
3.3.  Non-tariff measures applied by Sri Lanka and related procedural obstacles 41 
3.4.  Procedural obstacles and inefficient trade-related business environment 42 
3.5.  Non-tariff measures and other obstacles affecting imports 45 
3.6.  Summary and policy options 47 


4.  Clothing and textiles 47 
4.1.  The importance of the sector and its value chain 47 
4.2.  Companies affected by trade barriers 49 
4.3.  Non-tariff measures applied by partner countries to clothing exports 50 
4.4.  Non-tariff measures applied by Sri Lanka to clothing exports 53 
4.5.  Procedural obstacles and inefficient trade-related business environment affecting


clothing exports 54 
4.6.  Non-tariff measures and related procedural obstacles affecting clothing imports 54 
4.7.  Non-tariff measures and related procedural obstacles affecting textile exports 54 
4.8.  Non-tariff measures and other obstacles affecting textile imports 56 
4.9.  Summary and policy options 57 


5.  Chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products 60 
5.1.  The sector and its role in the value chain 60 
5.2.  Companies affected by trade barriers 60 
5.3.  Non-tariff measures applied by partner countries and related procedural obstacles


affecting exports 61 
5.4.  Non-tariff measures applied by Sri Lanka and related procedural obstacles


affecting exports 61 
5.5.  Non-tariff measures applied by Sri Lanka and related procedural obstacles


affecting imports 63 
5.6.  Summary and policy options 65 


6.  Other manufacturing products 69 
6.1.  Sector composition and trade background 69 
6.2.  Companies affected by trade barriers 70 
6.3.  Non-tariff measures applied by partner countries and related procedural obstacles


affecting exports 70 




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6.4.  Non-tariff measures applied by Sri Lanka and related procedural obstacles
affecting exports 71 


6.5.  Non-tariff measures applied to imports 71 
6.6.  Procedural obstacles and an inefficient trade-related business environment 74 
6.7.  Summary and policy options 74 


Conclusions 78 


Appendix I  Global methodology of the non-tariff measure surveys 81 


Appendix II  Non-tariff measure classification 87 


Appendix III Procedural obstacles 89 


Appendix IV Experts and stakeholders interviewed 90 


References 91 


Data sources 93 


Table 1: Trade and market diversification of Sri Lankan exports to major markets, agriculture
and manufacturing 9


Table 2: Tariffs applied and preferences granted by major importing partners, agriculture and
manufacturing 12


Table 3: Typical responses for the phone screens attempts 19
Table 4: Functions of the respondents 20
Table 5: Share of exporters affected by NTMs or other obstacles to trade, by sector 23
Table 6: NTMs applied by partner countries 26
Table 7: Procedural obstacles and inefficient trade-related business environment in Sri Lankan


agencies 27
Table 8: Procedural obstacles and inefficient trade-related business environment in partner


countries 28
Table 9: Export of tea: burdensome NTMs applied by partner countries 30
Table 10: Export of tea: burdensome NTMs applied by Sri Lankan authorities 30
Table 11: Export of tea: procedural obstacles and inefficient trade-related business environment 34
Table 12: Agricultural and food product exports (excluding tea): burdensome NTMs applied


by partner countries 38
Table 13: Agricultural and food product exports (excluding tea): burdensome NTMs applied by Sri


Lankan authorities 42
Table 14: Agricultural and food product exports (excluding tea): procedural obstacles and inefficient


trade-related business environment 43
Table 15: Agricultural and food product imports (excluding tea): burdensome NTMs applied


by Sri Lankan authorities 45
Table 16: Agricultural and food product imports (excluding tea): procedural obstacles and inefficient


trade-related business environment 46
Table 17: Export of clothing: burdensome NTMs applied by partner countries 51
Table 18: Clothing exports: burdensome NTMs applied by Sri Lankan authorities 52
Table 19: Clothing exports: procedural obstacles and inefficient trade-related business environment 53




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Table 20: Clothing imports: procedural obstacles and an inefficient trade-related business
environment 55


Table 21: Textile exports: burdensome NTMs applied by partner countries 56
Table 22: Textile exports: procedural obstacles and an inefficient trade-related business


environment 56
Table 23: Textile imports: burdensome NTMs applied by Sri Lankan authorities 59
Table 24: Textile imports: procedural obstacles and inefficient trade-related business environment 59
Table 25: Chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products exports: burdensome NTMs applied by


partner countries 62
Table 26: Chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products exports: burdensome NTMs applied


by Sri Lankan authorities 62
Table 27: Chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products exports: procedural obstacles


and inefficient trade-related business environment 63
Table 28: Chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products imports: burdensome NTMs applied


by Sri Lankan authorities 66
Table 29: Chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products imports: procedural obstacles


and inefficient trade-related business environment 68
Table 30: Other manufacturing products exports: burdensome NTMs applied by partner countries 72
Table 31: Other manufacturing products exports: burdensome NTMs applied by Sri Lankan


authorities 72
Table 32: Other manufacturing products imports: burdensome NTMs applied by Sri Lankan


authorities 73
Table 33: Other manufacturing products imports: burdensome NTMs applied by partner countries 73
Table 34: Other manufacturing products exports: procedural obstacles and inefficient trade-related


business environment 75
Table 35: Imports of other manufacturing products: procedural obstacles and inefficient trade-related


business environment 76



Figure 1: Sri Lanka real GDP growth, 2002–2010 5
Figure 2: Major sector contributions to GDP and employment, 2008 6
Figure 3: Exports and imports by sector, 2009 7
Figure 4: Agricultural and manufacturing trade and GDP, 2002–2009 8
Figure 5: Major export destinations of Sri Lanka, 2009 9
Figure 6: Trade agreements of Sri Lanka 11
Figure 7: Willingness to participate in face-to-face interviews among the companies that have


indicated difficulties with NTMs during phone screens 19
Figure 8: Survey representativeness by main export sector 21
Figure 9: Survey representativeness by company size 22
Figure 10: Survey results overview, by main categories of problems 25
Figure 11: Exporters of agriculture affected by trade barriers, by company size 36
Figure 12: Burdensome NTMs applied by the main markets for Sri Lankan agricultural


and food products 37
Figure 13: Export and import value of main agricultural and agro-based products in 2009,


by product group at the HS 2-digit level 44
Figure 14: Development of textile imports, clothing value added and exports, 2002-2009 48
Figure 15: Exports and imports of subsectors comprised in other manufacturing in 2009 69
Figure 16: Other manufacturing companies affected by trade barriers, by size 70




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Acronyms


The following abbreviations are used:


APTA Asia Pacific Trade Agreement
BOI Board of Investment
CDD cosmetics, devices and drugs
CCC Ceylon Chamber of Commerce
CEPA Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement
CTC cut-tear-curl tea manufacturing process
CUSDEC customs declaration
DTI Direct Trader Input facility in the Sri Lanka Customs
ECC European Chamber of Commerce
EDB Sri Lanka Export Development Board
EDI electronic data interchange
EPZ export processing zones
EU European Union
FTA free trade area
GDP gross domestic product
GNTB Group of Eminent Persons on Non-Tariff Barriers
GSP Generalized System of Preferences
GSP+ Special Incentive Arrangement for Sustainable Development and Good Governance
GSTP Global System of Trade Preferences
GWG Garments Without Guilt
HACCP hazard analysis and critical control points
HS Harmonized System
IMF International Monetary Fund
ISFTA Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement
ITC International Trade Centre
ICT information and communications technologies
ISO International Organization for Standardization
ITI Industrial Technology Institute
LDC least developed country
LMRB Lanka Market Research Bureau
MAST Multi Agency Support Team
MFA Multi Fibre Arrangement
MFN most favoured nation
MRA mutual recognition agreement
NBT nation building tax
NCC National Chamber of Commerce
n.e.s. not elsewhere specified
NTM non-tariff measure
NTB non-tariff barrier
OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
PAL Ports and Airports Development Levy
PO procedural obstacle




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PSFTA Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement
REACH Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals
SAFTA South Asia Free Trade Agreement
SLECIC Sri Lanka Export Credit Insurance Corporation
SLPA Sri Lanka Port Authorities
SLS Sri Lanka Standard
SLSI Sri Lanka Standards Institution
SLTB Sri Lanka Tea Board
SME small and medium-sized enterprise
SPS sanitary and phytosanitary measures
SRL Social Responsibility Levy
SVAT simplified value added tax
TBE trade-related business environment
TBT technical barriers to trade
TIEP temporary importation for export processing
TPR trade policy review
TRC Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka
TRIPS Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
UAE United Arab Emirates
UNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
UNIDO United Nations Industrial Development Organization
VAT value added tax
WTO World Trade Organization




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Executive summary


Introduction to non-tariff measures


The importance of non-tariff measures (NTMs) has strongly increased in the past decades. With
consumers demanding more and more information on the products they buy, importing countries put in
place more regulations. Even though these regulations do not necessarily have trade policy objectives,
they may impact on exporting companies. The majority of the recent trade agreements also include NTM
provisions. The relative importance of NTMs is also on the rise, following a steady decline of the overall
level of applied tariffs.


To address this development, the International Trade Centre (ITC) is actively working on NTMs. A major
activity to improve knowledge about the impact of NTMs includes large-scale surveys of companies in
developing countries – a viable instrument for collecting information on the perception of NTMs, which by
their nature are hard to quantify. NTMs comprise a vast array of policies from categories such as technical
regulations, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, certification requirements and other conformity
assessment, quantitative restrictions, additional charges and financial measures. The ITC survey not only
focuses on these government-imposed NTMs, but also looks at related procedural obstacles (POs)
hindering companies in their compliance with NTMs. Common POs include institutional delays and costs,
difficult documentation or a lack of testing facilities. Furthermore, inefficiencies of the trade-related
business environment (TBE) are considered.


Country context of Sri Lanka


As a small open economy, Sri Lanka is strongly reliant on international trade. On the one hand, large
export industries are major employers and foreign exchange earners; on the other hand, Sri Lanka is
dependent on imports as a net food importer. Furthermore, imported inputs are required for several
domestic industries. Recognizing trade as one of the central pillars of the economy and its development,
Sri Lanka has pursued an outward-oriented trade policy, seeking further integration in international markets
and improved market access. Accordingly, Sri Lanka is an active participant in the Doha Development
Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO), is increasingly engaged in bilateral and regional trade
agreements, and receives preferential market access from major developed economies. The government’s
industrial policy is inclined to promote an upwards movement on the value chain by means of investment
and a rather complex structure of taxes and tariffs.


NTM Survey implementation in Sri Lanka


The survey in Sri Lanka was conducted between February and August 2010. In order to promote local
capacity building, the survey was implemented by the Lanka Market Research Bureau (LMRB). The local
project manager and interviewers have undergone training by ITC on NTMs and the NTM Survey
methodology. ITC has compiled a comprehensive business register, based on information by Sri Lanka
Customs, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and the Export Development Board (EDB). As a first
step, 512 companies were drawn from this register and interviewed by phone. Detailed face-to-face
interviews were then realized with 177 companies that were affected by obstacles to trade and were willing
to participate. The resulting sample is representative by sector and company size. The survey covers all
major export sectors and some essential import sectors. To support preliminary results, further open-end
interviews with national stakeholders were conducted by graduate students from the School of
International Public Policy of Columbia University (United States). In cooperation with the Ministry of Trade
and the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka, a dissemination workshop was held in November 2010: the
survey results were presented by ITC and discussed with Sri Lankan experts and stakeholders, which has
led to specific policy recommendations and actions.


General results


With an overall share of 69.7% of exporting firms and 70.4% of importing firms reporting burdensome trade
barriers in the initial phone screen interviews, Sri Lanka is among the most affected countries surveyed so
far. Exporters in the fresh food sector have the highest ratio of companies reporting trade barriers (80.6%




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xiv MAR-11-207.E


of contacted companies), followed by companies exporting processed agricultural commodities (75.7%).
The manufacturing export sectors are less, but still highly, affected by NTM related problems: 70.6% of
textile and clothing exporters have reported difficulties, followed by exporters of chemicals, plastics and
rubber-based products (60%) and other manufactures (66.5%).


The face-to-face interviews of the ITC survey revealed several recurring issues that affect most evaluated
sectors. For both exports and imports, the largest proportion of reported NTMs referred to technical
requirements and conformity assessment. The term conformity assessment refers to compulsory activities
and certificates necessary to demonstrate compliance with technical requirements. Evidence from the
survey in Sri Lanka indicates that this conformity assessment is often more burdensome than fulfilling the
requirement itself. In the case of imports, a number of charges, taxes and other para-tariff measures were
also mentioned as major impediments to trade.


In absolute terms, most NTM cases were reported to be applied by the largest markets in the European
Union and the United States, but also by the regional partner India. Taking into account the number of
interviewed firms exporting to these important markets, India exhibited the highest relative incidence of
affected firms. Compared to Sri Lanka’s bilateral export value to the respective markets, smaller partner
countries like Australia, Mexico, Pakistan and Turkey also appear relatively cumbersome.


Sri Lankan companies experience a number of domestic problems not related to the partner countries. For
exporting companies these domestic burdens are mostly POs and an inefficient TBE, but also some
export-related NTMs (15% of all NTM cases on export) such as inspection and certification requirements in
Sri Lanka. When importing, problems with POs and the TBE in Sri Lanka were also reported to be of major
concern. The types of obstacles encountered by Sri Lankan firms are similar for exports and imports.
Delays, followed by inconsistent classification of products, informal payments and unusually high fees and
charges were the most common obstacles. These complaints were directed towards the Customs and Port
Authorities in about half of all cases, but also towards many different sector-specific agencies and
certification facilities.


Tea


The tea sector was found to be most strongly burdened by technical measures and domestic additional
charges. Small producers find it difficult to comply with SPS regulations mandated by the authorities in Sri
Lanka and importing countries. Larger companies, however, reported problems in demonstrating
compliance with these requirements rather than with the requirements themselves. A lack of adequate
testing and certification facilities was lamented in this respect.


The survey makes a distinction between producing companies that export their goods, and trading agents,
i.e. firms that are specialized in export-import operations and do not produce themselves. Trading agents
exporting tea have not reported any burdensome NTMs. Since both producers and trading agents export
tea, the obstacles experienced by producing companies seem less related to the particular product itself. In
turn, this may indicate that the problems of producers stem from a limited access to information and a lack
of export expertise within companies.


Furthermore, additional charges, particularly the Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB) cess, were felt to be a
financial problem. Both domestic technical requirements and export cesses are aimed at maintaining the
high quality and image of the Ceylon Tea brand. Nevertheless, insufficient testing facilities and increased
costs through the cess may lead to a loss of Sri Lankan market share to other international competitors.


Other agricultural and agro-based products


Raw and processed agricultural exports, except tea, were reported to be hampered by product-specific
SPS and technical regulations. These are mostly applied by the importing partner countries, but also by Sri
Lanka in the form of export inspections. Several POs are related to domestic authorities, ministries and
other facilities involved in the process of providing certification or technical customs clearance. General
issues like unusually high fees, delays and informal payments were encountered at Customs and Port
Authority. Here, a low implementation of electronic customs systems and excessive as well as redundant




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physical checking of cargo are especially lamented. Private standards, set by major buyers in large
markets, also caused difficulty.


Clothing and textiles


The clothing and textile sector encounters obstacles on exports and imports, respectively. The large
apparel export industry is confronted with very strong international competition. In this context, trade
preferences play an important role, especially non-reciprocal tariff preferences for the major European
Union and United States markets. The recent suspension of the Special Incentive Arrangement for
Sustainable Development and Good Governance (GSP+) by the European Union and Turkey has
therefore caused considerable concern in the industry. However, obstacles related to these preferences
were experienced that will remain relevant for any preference scheme in the future. A requirement for
benefitting from tariff preferences is compliance with rules of origin. Clothing manufacturers find the
respective certificates of origin hard to obtain. This is often due to procedural delays of Sri Lankan
authorities. However, since Sri Lanka relies on imported textile inputs to a large extent, problems can be
caused by partners’ rules of origin requirements specifying minimum shares of domestic inputs.


Concerning imported textiles, temporary importation for export processing (TIEP) schemes should relieve
clothing exporters from duties and additional charges (EDB cess and nation building tax [NBT]) when
importing inputs. However, several firms complained about excessive paperwork and long delays in order
to obtain reimbursements.


Chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products


Chemicals and raw plastics are mostly imported, but provide essential raw and intermediate inputs for Sri
Lanka’s major export sectors in both agriculture and manufacturing. Owed to the fact that chemicals can
have hazardous properties, Sri Lanka imposes respective technical measures that are oriented at
international standards. Regardless of the actual technical requirements, companies complain about
insufficient testing facilities in Sri Lanka and long delays in inspections. As in the aforementioned case of
imported textile inputs, it is especially small importers of chemicals and raw plastics for domestic
processing that encounter POs with reimbursements schemes such as the TIEP. Companies in the
exporting sub-sector of rubber-based products report difficulties in complying with certification
requirements in European Union and United States markets.


Other manufacturing


Sri Lankan exporters of other manufactured goods face burdens with technical measures and implied
conformity assessment similar to the clothing and textiles and chemicals, plastics and rubber-based
products sectors. Again, companies point out the domestic side of problems with respect to testing and
certification infrastructure. Institutions such as the Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI), the
Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), the Cosmetics, Devices and Drugs (CDD) Authority
or the Forestry Authority are reported to cause delays and require extensive documentation for export
licensing. Many imported manufacturing goods require important investment inputs from the various
sectors of domestic production, exports and services. The recurring problem for the affected companies is
a considerable number of different charges and taxes. The respective rebate and reimbursement schemes
like TIEP, simplified value added tax (SVAT), duty rebate or manufacture in bond are felt to be weakly
implemented due to POs.


Conclusions


The most common NTMs applied by importing partners are technical measures. It may be possible to
address these issues within the frameworks of bilateral (Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement and
Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with India, Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement)
or regional trade agreements (South Asia Free Trade Agreement, Asia Pacific Trade Agreement) or even
at the multilateral level of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This approach, however, is likely to be
arduous due to the sensitive nature of such NTMs, which are often introduced for reasons of national
security, the protection of consumers or the environment.




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xvi MAR-11-207.E


More promising is the large potential for domestic trade promotion: given that exporters tend to be
particularly concerned with demonstrating compliance rather than with the requirements per se, the
domestic bottleneck in testing and certification infrastructure should be tackled. Facilities like the SLSI, as
the national focal point for standards and testing, and other sector-specific institutions need to be
strengthened. Priority should be given to mandatory standards of the most important markets prior to
concentrating on smaller markets and private standards.


Particularly for imports, but also for some exports, a quite complex system of different charges applies.
Considering that many imported goods are crucial inputs for domestic industries, charges on imports can
be considered taxes on domestic production. If sold domestically, charges are likely to be passed on to
consumers. In contrast, if exported to foreign markets with a high degree of competition, any additional
domestic costs are borne by the exporting company and will reduce its competitiveness. Exemption
schemes in favour of imported inputs for domestic processing and export are supposed to alleviate this
financial burden of duties and these charges. The ITC survey also revealed that companies are both
confused with the applicable charges and struggle with extensive procedures to obtain exemptions.
Facilitating documentation for exemption schemes, streamlining administrative procedures and information
campaigns may have beneficial effects for export promotion. However, even if fiscal revenue needed to be
maintained, simplifying the structure of charges towards a single tax or tariff would go a significant step
further and increase transparency for the business sector.


As trading companies from all sectors are frequently affected by inefficiencies of the TBE, the significant
effect of investments into infrastructure and procedures at Customs and Ports should not be
underestimated. The main suggestions by the business sector were: unifying the inspections of relevant
agencies into a ‘single window inspection’; increasing the use of X-ray machines to speed-up inspections
and to avoid damaged cargo; improving and extending the use of electronic customs systems; training of
officials; expanding general cargo handling capacities; and reducing costs of demurrage.


Unfavourable terms of payment for Sri Lankan exporters demanded by the importing partner cannot be
influenced directly, yet strengthening the Sri Lanka Export Credit Insurance Corporation (SLECIC) or
establishing the envisaged export/import bank may facilitate trade finance. Good practices in production
and labour standards, alongside voluntary sector-specific initiatives like Garments Without Guilt (GWG),
can help to further establish Sri Lanka as a high-quality exporter.


Through assessing the most important obstacles to trade, the ITC survey has laid the foundation for
detailed government action. A next step towards a successful implementation strategy could be
establishing a committee that partners high-level government officials from relevant ministries and
institutions with representatives of the affected business sectors. Such a public-private partnership could
define priorities according to specific cost-benefit analyses and trigger concrete action.





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MAR-11-207.E 1


Introduction


The growing role of non-tariff measures in trade


Over several decades, trade liberalization has been used as an important development tool based on the
evidence that there are many benefits that a country could gain through a more active participation in world
trade. Consequently, a large number of multilateral, regional and bilateral trade negotiations as well as
non-reciprocal concessions have led to a remarkable reduction in average global tariff protection. With this
unprecedentedly favourable market access, international trade has soared to previously unseen levels,
raising mutual welfare and the standards of living.


However, it seems that the positive development of falling tariffs has been undermined by a shift towards a
misuse of non-tariff measures (NTMs). Some NTMs are essential to ensure consumer health,
environmental protection or national security. Still, evidence suggests that countries are resorting to NTMs
as alternative instruments for protectionist market access regulation. NTMs have been negotiated within
the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and World Trade Organization (WTO) since the Tokyo Round
(1973–1979) and are increasingly tackled in regional and bilateral trade agreements. Nevertheless, NTMs
are rapidly gaining in importance and are often considered by practitioners to have already surpassed
tariffs in their overall trade-impeding effect.


Being ‘defined by what they are not’,1 NTMs comprise a myriad of different policies other than ordinary
tariff duties: technical barriers to trade (TBT), sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, certification or
testing requirements, quotas, import or export licenses, additional taxes and surcharges, financial
measures, rules of origin, and many others. Unlike tariffs, NTMs are not mere numbers, but rather complex
legal texts, specific to the applying country. Thus, they vary widely even within the aforementioned broad
categories and are not easily amenable to quantification or comparison.


NTMs are of outstanding concern to exporters and importers in developing and least developed countries,
who struggle particularly with the sometimes complex requirements. Furthermore, firms in these countries
are often confronted with inadequate domestic trade-related infrastructure and administrative obstacles.
Therefore, even NTMs that do not pose a problem per se can become major burdens. A lack of other
export-support services and insufficient access to the relevant information about regulations impose further
pressure on the international competitiveness of firms. Hence, both the NTMs applied by partner countries
as well as domestic burdens can significantly affect market access and shut out firms from the
opportunities created by globalization.


Non-tariff measures, their classification and other obstacles to trade


Obstacles to trade are a complex and diverse subject, thus it is worthwhile to look briefly into terminology
and classification before going further into detailed analysis. First of all, the term NTM can be broadly
defined as follows: ‘policy measures, other than ordinary customs tariffs, that can potentially have an
economic effect on international trade in goods, changing quantities traded, or prices or both’.2 Notably,
NTM is a neutral concept as such and does not imply a direction of impact. It should be distinguished from
the frequently used term non-tariff barrier (NTB), which implies a negative impact on trade. The Multi-
Agency Support Team (MAST) and the Group of Eminent Persons on Non-Tariff Barriers (GNTB) propose
that NTBs be a subset of NTMs that have a ‘protectionist or discriminatory intent’.3 Given that trade policies
may be imposed for legitimate reasons, such as the protection of human, animal and plant health, this
report will not make any a priori judgement about intentions and, thus, generally employ the term NTM. By
design of the ITC survey, only NTMs are captured that cause major difficulty for trading companies. NTMs
analysed in this report therefore refer to ‘burdensome NTMs’.


Given the vast diversity in which NTMs occur and their specificity to countries as well as products, it is
necessary to establish an NTM classification system. The ITC survey is based upon an international

1 Deardorff and Stern (1998).
2 Multi Agency Support Team (2009).
3 Ibid.




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2 MAR-11-207.E


classification developed by the MAST, incorporating some minor adaptations to the ITC business survey
approach.4 While the actual classification and data collection go into further detail, the following broad
distinctions should be made at this point for a better understanding of the report. NTMs applied by the
importing country are divided into technical measures (comprising TBT and SPS) and non-technical
measures. Technical measures refer to product-specific requirements such as tolerance limits of certain
substances, labelling standards or transport conditions. They contain two major categories: the technical
requirement (TBT or SPS) itself and conformity assessment, like certification or testing procedures to
demonstrate compliance with the underlying requirement. Non-technical measures mostly comprise the
following categories: charges, taxes and other para-tariff measures in addition to ordinary customs duties;
quantity control measures like non-automatic licences or quotas; pre-shipment inspections and other
formalities like automatic licenses; rules of origin; finance measures like terms of payment or exchange
rate regulations; price control measures. Apart from the aforementioned import-related measures,
measures applied by the exporting country form a separate category.


To go a step beyond government-imposed NTMs and to provide a richer picture of the problems that
companies face, the survey also looks at procedural obstacles (POs) and the trade-related business
environment (TBE).5 POs refer to practical challenges directly related to the implementation of NTMs. For
instance, problems caused by a lack of adequate testing facilities to comply with technical measures or
excessive documentation in the administration of licenses are considered POs. Caused by an inefficient
TBE, similar difficulties may also occur unrelated to specific NTMs. Examples are delays and costs due to
poor infrastructure or inconsistent behaviour of officials at customs or ports.


A need for understanding the company perspective on non-tariff measures and
procedural obstacles


In the literature, the evaluation of NTM protection has been pursued by means of different methods. An
early and very simplistic approach has been the use of mere incidence and NTM coverage ratios. For
example, Laird and Yeats (1990) found a dramatic surge of NTM incidence in developed countries
between 1966 and 1986, a 36% increase for food products and an 82% increase for textiles. Such studies
rely on extensive databases that map NTMs per product and applying country. The largest database with
respect to official government-reported NTMs used to be the Trade Analysis and Information System
published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), but data has been
incomplete and updates irregular. In a major multi-agency effort, ITC, UNCTAD and the World Bank are
currently collecting data for a new, global NTM database with a particular focus on TBT and SPS.
However, irrespective of how complete such an NTM incidence database may be, it will tell little about the
actual impact of NTMs on the business sector. Neither do such databases provide information about
related POs.


The two major approaches to estimating the impact of NTMs include quantification techniques and direct
assessment. Several academic studies have quantitatively estimated the impact of NTMs on either trade
quantities or prices. Such studies have either focused on very specific measures and individual countries6
or have statistically estimated the average impact from large samples of countries and NTMs.7 Excellent
surveys are provided by Deardorff and Stern (1998) as well as Ferrantino (2006). Such academic articles
provide a very interesting and important insight into quantitative impacts of NTMs. However, these studies
are often either too specific or too general to deliver a clear and useful picture of NTM protection to the two
essential groups of stakeholders: the business sector and national policymakers. Furthermore, quantitative
estimations of the effects of NTMs rarely allow for separation of the impact of the NTM regulation per se
from related POs or inefficiencies of the TBE.


This report presents results based on the alternative approach of direct assessment, through a large-scale
company survey on NTMs, POs and the TBE. It therefore fills the gap left by the aforementioned methods
– it delivers a detailed qualitative impact analysis and also directly addresses key stakeholders. The survey

4 For further details about the MAST NTM classification, see appendix II.
5 For further details about the systematic classification that is used for the survey of POs and problems caused by an inefficient TBE,
refer to appendix III.
6 Calvin and Krissoff (1998); Yue, Beghin and Jensen (2006).
7 Disdier, Fontagné and Mimouni (2008); Dean et al. (2009); Kee, Nicita and Olarreaga (2008); Kee, Nicita and Olarreaga (2009).




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 3


allows companies to directly report the most burdensome NTMs and the specific way in which they impact
their export performance or restrict imports of inputs. Exporters and importers have to deal with NTMs and
other obstacles on a day-to-day basis, and they know best about the specific challenges and problems
they face. A business perspective on the issue of NTMs is therefore indispensable. At the government
level, an understanding of their key concerns with regard to NTMs, POs and the TBE can help define
national strategies to address and overcome obstacles to trade.


A number of previous business survey results on NTMs were compiled in a study by the Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development;8 however none of them involved Sri Lanka. As an overall trend,
technical measures followed by additional charges and general customs procedures were identified as the
most burdensome trade restrictions. Quotas and other quantitative restrictions, which used to be one of the
main trade policy instruments a few decades ago, are only ranked fifth out of ten evaluated categories.
While this survey-of-surveys gives a good general indication of NTM concerns of the business sector, most
of the underlying 23 surveys cover only a restricted set of partner countries and products. Also, the share
of surveys from developing countries is generally low. The ITC NTM project evaluates all major export
sectors and all importing partners, and aspires to gradually cover a large number of developing countries.





8 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2005).




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4 MAR-11-207.E





SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 5


Chapter 1 Trade and trade policy overview of Sri Lanka


1. General economic introduction and sector composition
The following presents an overview of the relevant aspects of Sri Lanka’s economy, trade and policy in order
to provide a point of reference for the survey results in later chapters. The first section gives a very brief
outline of economic output, sector contributions and employment. With this overall economic situation in
mind, the second section describes Sri Lanka’s trade structure – export and import sectors, partner countries
and diversification. The third section describes Sri Lanka’s overall trade policy situation, complementing the
analysis of the business perception of non-tariff measures in this report. Tariffs applied and faced
internationally, trade agreements, and a first outlook at known non-tariff measures (NTMs) are presented.
The last section deals with national trade and development strategies that stand in close relation to the trade-
related business environment (TBE), which is also part of the survey and evaluated in the later chapters.


1.1. Gross domestic product and public finance
Sri Lanka’s nominal total gross domestic product (GDP) of about US$ 28 billion in 2009 translates to a per
capita GDP of about US$ 4,600 in terms of purchasing power parity. Despite several domestic as well as
external challenges, Sri Lanka has resiliently achieved high economic growth rates over the last decade
(see figure 1). Between 2003 and 2008 economic growth has generally exceeded 6% per year,
comparable to the rest of Asia and the Pacific. Even during the worldwide economic downturn, a
remarkable growth rate of 3.5% was achieved. Also, unemployment was steadily reduced from almost 9%
in 2002 to 5.2% in 2008, but increased again by 0.5% in 2009.


Figure 1: Sri Lanka real GDP growth, 2002–2010




Source: International Monetary Fund (IMF), 2010, accessed at: http://www.imf.org/external/datamapper/index.php.


However, high government spending, particularly due to the long-lasting domestic conflict, has caused total
sovereign debt to steadily increase to more than 80% of GDP in 2008. Thus vulnerable to the financial
crisis, a potential payment crisis was avoided by a standby agreement with the International Monetary
Fund. With the end of the war in 2009, international confidence was restored and resulted in a strong
recovery with growth rates beyond 8% in the second half of 2010. Sri Lanka has also been made eligible
for loans from the International Bank for Reconstruction of the World Bank.


1.2. Sector contributions and employment
The share of agriculture in Sri Lanka’s GDP fluctuated at around 13% of GDP in the last five years. If a
longer time horizon is taken into account, the share of agriculture has been declining (from 26.3% in 1990
to 13.4% in 2008). Despite its low share in GDP, agriculture is a critical sector, as it employs 32.6% of the


-2


0


2


4


6


8


10


2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010


R
ea


l G
D


P
gr


ow
th


(i
n


%
)


Sri Lanka


Asia and Pacific


World




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


6 MAR-11-207.E


labour force (see figure 2), provides livelihoods for around 70% of the rural population, supplies raw
materials for the manufacturing industry and earns foreign exchange through exports.9


The combined industry sector consists mostly of manufacturing, but also utilities, mining and construction,
and accounts for similar shares of GDP and employment, with 29% and 26%, respectively (see figure 2).
The garment industries, processed agricultural goods as well as chemical and rubber-based products are
the largest contributors to industrial output. The export and import operations of these respective industries
thus form a major part of the survey and of the analysis in this report. Production predominantly originates
from private export-oriented factories, although utilities are widely state-owned.


Sri Lanka’s economic output is dominated by the services sector, which also includes transport,
communications, financial services and tourism. While 57% of GDP is contributed by services, only a
smaller share, or 41%, of the work force is employed in the sector (figure 2).


Geographically, economic activity is mostly concentrated in the Western province, particularly in the capital
Colombo, and other coastal areas of the Eastern and Southern provinces. Conversely, significantly more
than 20% of the population is poor in rural and plantation areas of the landlocked Uva, Central and
Sabaragamuwa Provinces, while the nationwide poverty headcount is still exceeding 15%. A share of 45%
of total poor households can be related to the agricultural sector, 32% to the service sector and 23% to
industry.10


Figure 2: Major sector contributions to GDP and employment, 2008




Source: WTO, Trade Policy Review of Sri Lanka, Report by the Secretariat, WT/TPR/S/237, 29 September 2010.


Note: Industry includes manufacturing, electricity, gas, water, mining, quarrying and construction.


2. Trade patterns
This section provides a summary of Sri Lanka’s external trade. While more specific references to trade
flows will be made throughout the report, this introductory part shall put those more disaggregated
numbers into a broader picture.



9 World Trade Organization (2010).
10 The national poverty line was defined at SL Rs 1,423 (US$ 15) per month for the base year of 2002 and is adjusted according to
the Colombo Consumer Price Index. Source: Ministry of Finance and Planning, Department of Census and Statistics (2009).


13.4%
32.6%


29.4%


26.2%


57.2%
41.2%


0%


10%


20%


30%


40%


50%


60%


70%


80%


90%


100%


Share in real GDP Share in employment


Services


Industry


Agriculture




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 7


2.1. Composition and development of commodity trade
Sri Lanka’s total exports for 2009 amounted to US$ 7,121 million, with imports worth US$ 9,432 million.
Manufacturing represents 68% of total exports, and 78% of total imports.11 The government has pursued
an export-oriented strategy to strengthen the manufacturing sector, while acknowledging that some of the
largest industries, such as apparel or processed plastics, are dependent on imported inputs. Significant
shares of total imports are thus observed for textiles, chemicals and machinery employed as direct inputs
and investment goods for domestic industries (figure 3). The overall trade balance in manufacturing is
therefore negative to an extent of US$ 1,279 million in 2009. If the dominant clothing export industry is
excluded, Sri Lanka’s net imports even amount to US$ 4,451 million.


Net exports are positive for agricultural commodities. However, Sri Lanka is a net food importing country: if
exports of the large tea sector are excluded, Sri Lanka’s agricultural net imports amount to US$ 617
million. The tea sector accounts for over half of agricultural exports and for about 15% of total exports.
Major importing subsectors are raw cereals, dairy products and some edible vegetables.12


The lion’s share of more than 20% of total imports is made up by fuels and other minerals, driving the trade
balance into negative values.


Figure 3: Exports and imports by sector, 2009



Source: ITC calculations based on Trade Map data, 2010.


The development of trade and output for agriculture and manufacturing between 2002 and 2009 is
illustrated in figure 4. After several years of steady growth in exports and imports, declines due to real
economy effects of the financial crisis, and thus low international and domestic demand, were recorded in
2009. Imports were most strongly affected with rates of decline of 28% in manufacturing and 20% in
agricultural goods. Despite exports falling, by 12% and 9% respectively, total output in manufacturing
increased by 4%, while agricultural output only fell by 3%.


According to the 2010 report by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, trade rebounded in the first months of 2010.
Earnings from agricultural exports increased significantly, driven by high prices and favourable weather
conditions. However, the export of raw rubber has declined in volume terms due to an increase in domestic
processing and export of processed rubber and rubber-based products.13 Manufacturing exports have
increased by 7.9% in the same period. Most importantly, machinery and equipment, and rubber products
drove the recovery, whereas earnings from the large clothing sector further declined. On the import side,

11 Sectoral trade values and percentages are based on the ITC survey’s sector definitions and excluding trade in minerals and arms.
Calculations based on ITC Trade Map, 2011.
12 ITC calculations based on Trade Map data, 2010.
13 Central Bank of Sri Lanka (2010), annex 2.


0 500 1,000 1,500 2,000 2,500 3,000 3,500 4,000


Chemical, plastic and rubber based products


Other manufacturing


Other food and agricultural products


Tea


Textiles and clothing


Exports Imports (in US$ million)




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


8 MAR-11-207.E


transport equipment and chemicals (including fertilisers) increased strongly over the same period. Imports
of all input and consumer good categories also recovered.14


Despite general increases during the last years, figure 4 also highlights a decline in the relative contribution
of merchandise exports to GDP, which is particularly strong and long-lasting for manufacturing exports.
While the share of manufacturing imports in GDP has also dropped significantly, its decline mostly
occurred during the crisis-ridden 2008–2009 period. Agricultural trade and output generally exhibited lower
growth rates since 2002, but the relative contributions of exports and imports to output remained constant
until further growing domestic output was confronted with stagnant international demand and dropping
international commodity prices in 2008.


Figure 4: Agricultural and manufacturing trade and GDP, 2002–2009



Sources: ITC calculations based on Trade Map data, 2010; Central Bank of Sri Lanka online information, 2010.
Note: Trade statistics exclude minerals and arms.


2.2. Export destinations and diversification
The European Union (EU) and the United States are importing partners for more than 60% of Sri Lanka’s
exports, dominated by manufactured goods like apparel and rubber-based products. With respect to
agricultural commodities, the United States is not among the five largest markets. As major importers of
tea, the Middle East and the Russian Federation respectively account for 11% and 3% of Sri Lanka’s total
exports. Despite rapid annual average growth of over 20% between 2001 and 2009, neighbouring partner
India only accounts for 4% of exports. Sri Lanka’s exports thus strongly depend on the demand and
business cycle of a few partners (figure 5).


Sri Lanka’s economic policy has made substantial efforts to diversify industrial output, which has resulted
in a shift of exports from plantation crops towards more advanced processed goods. Sri Lankan
manufacturing exports are now well diversified in terms of traded products. For instance, 95% of exports to
the European Union, the largest importing partner of Sri Lanka, are diversified to 172 product lines
(Harmonized System [HS] 6-digit classification15, see table 1).



14 Central Bank of Sri Lanka (2010), annex 2, and ITC calculations based on Trade Map data, 2010.
15 The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, generally referred to as ‘Harmonized System’ or simply ‘HS’, is a
multipurpose international product nomenclature developed by the World Customs Organization. It comprises about 5,000 commodity
groups; each identified by a six digit code, arranged in a legal and logical structure and is supported by well-defined rules to achieve
uniform classification. The system is used by more than 200 countries and economies as a basis for their Customs tariffs and for the
collection of international trade statistics. Over 98% of the merchandise in international trade is classified in terms of the HS. Source:
website of the World Customs Organization (accessed at http://www.wcoomd.org/hsharmonizedsystem.htm).


0


2,000


4,000


6,000


8,000


10,000


12,000


14,000


2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009


Va
lu


e
in


U
S$


m
ill


io
n


(c
ur


re
nt


p
ric


es
)


Trade and GDP by sector


Manufacturing GDP


Manufacturing exports


Manufacturing imports


Agriculture GDP


Agriculture exports


Agriculture imports




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 9


Figure 5: Major export destinations of Sri Lanka, 2009


Source: ITC calculations based on Trade Map data, 2010.


The agricultural export of Sri Lanka is diversified with exception of trade with the Russian Federation. Sri
Lanka exported to the Russian Federation for US$ 215 million in 2008, and just three tea products (defined
at the HS 6-digit level) cumulatively account for 95% of the total bilateral export (table 1). Sri Lankan
agricultural export baskets to other major partners – India, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Japan –
include 10 to 22 products. Exports to the European Union are quite well diversified, with 49 different agro-
products comprising 95% of exports (table 1). An increased export diversification in terms of products may
still be desirable, as an expanded portfolio of products can help to mitigate adverse shocks, including both
market risks (e.g. crisis driven contraction of demand) and unfavourable weather conditions.


Table 1: Trade and market diversification of Sri Lankan exports to major markets,
agriculture and manufacturing


Major markets
for


manufacturing


Bilateral
manufacturing


imports


Diversification
95% of trade


value
concentrated
on number of


products*


Major
markets for
agriculture


Bilateral
agricultural


imports


Diversification
95% of trade


value
concentrated on


number of
products*


Year (in US$ million)
HS 2-
digit


HS 6-
digit Year


(in US$
million)


HS 2-
digit


HS 6-
digit


1. European
Union 2009 2,362 28 172


1. European
Union 2009 409 15 49


2. United States 2009 1,504 14 103 2. Russian Federation 2008 215 1 3


3. India 2009 214 45 170
3. United
Arab
Emirates


2007 142 5 10


4. Canada 2009 83 24 120 4. India 2009 113 12 22


5. Turkey 2009 81 13 76 5. Japan 2009 95 10 14
Source: ITC calculations based on Trade Map data, 2011.


* Products in the table above are defined at different levels of aggregation by the HS at the 2-digit and, more detailed, at the 6-digit
level. As reference, there are 98 products at the 2-digit and about 5,300 products at the 6-digit HS level.


EU 27
39%


United States
23%


India
4%


Russian Federation
3%


Other Asia and
Pacific


6%


Middle East
11%


Latin America
and the Caribbean


2%


Africa
1% Other


11%




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10 MAR-11-207.E


3. Trade policy
The Mahinda Chintana, the Ten Year Horizon Development Framework for 2006–2016, as devised by the
Department of National Planning, names international trade as one of the pillars of development and
envisages a closer integration into world markets.16 Sri Lanka is pursuing an outward-oriented trade
strategy with particular focus on exports by improving market access in foreign markets in order to reduce
the considerable trade deficit. The Sri Lankan trade regime has been characterized as the most open of
the South Asian region.17 Despite simplifying tariff schedules, recent reforms have seen average tariff
increases. Fiscal revenue purposes have played a role in a number of additional charges on imports,18 but
additional charges were also levied on about 22% of exports.19


3.1. Tariffs and Trade Agreements


3.1.1. Sri Lankan import tariffs and trade agreements


As per June 2010, Sri Lanka’s previous five-band import tariff structure has been simplified to a three-band
tariff system, yet with a strong tariff escalation from duty-free entry for essential and raw goods, over 15%
tariffs for intermediate and semi-processed goods, to 30% for finished goods. While duty free tariff lines
have thus increased from 10% in 2003 to 44% in 2010, the use of the highest tariff has also increased
resulting in an average applied most favoured nation (MFN) tariff increase from 9.8% (2003) to 11.5%
(2010). With very few exceptions exceeding the World Trade Organization (WTO) MFN bound rates, most
applied tariffs lie far below. Furthermore, 96% of all tariff lines are now ad-valorem.20


With regard to WTO disciplines, Sri Lanka has recently implemented the Customs Valuation Agreement.
Yet, exceptions remain legitimate if they are viewed as necessary by the authorities. Until now, Sri Lanka
has only once filed a complaint (1996, against Brazil) at the WTO Dispute Settlement body and never been
a respondent to a complaint.21 In the negotiations of the current WTO Doha Round, Sri Lanka has been
particularly engaged in areas of agriculture, non-agricultural market access, Trade-related Aspects of
Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and trade facilitation. As a ‘disproportionately affected country’, Sri
Lanka has expressed concern about a possible erosion of preferences resulting from multilateral tariff
reductions due to the Doha Development Agenda.22


Apart from its multilateral obligations in the WTO, the country is member of two regional trade agreements,
the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) and the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA). The simple
average preferential margins Sri Lanka grants to partners under the SAFTA, which was implemented in
2006 and includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan, amount to an average of
1.3% across all tariff lines over the respective MFN rate (11.5%). APTA, formerly the Bangkok Agreement,
also came into force in 2006 and includes Bangladesh, China, India, the Lao People’s Democratic
Republic and the Republic of Korea, but preferences as compared to the simple average MFN rates are
very small (0.2%).23


Furthermore, Sri Lanka is engaged in bilateral trade agreements with India (ISFTA – the Indo-Sri Lanka
Free Trade Agreement) since 2000, and Pakistan (PSFTA – the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade
Agreement) since 2002. A Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India as a
further step for bilateral integration has been negotiated but not yet been implemented.24 Currently, India is



16 Ministry of Finance and Planning of Sri Lanka (2006).
17 Economist Intelligence Unit (2008).
18 WTO (2010).
19 ITC calculations based on Trade Map. Total exports exclude minerals and arms.
20 WTO (2010).
21 WTO, Dispute Settlement: Dispute DS30, Brazil – Countervailing Duties on Imports of Desiccated Coconut and Coconut Milk
Powder from Sri Lanka: http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/cases_e/ds30_e.htm (accessed on 24 March 2011).
22 WTO (2010).
23 Ibid.
24 Government of India, Department of Commerce website: http://commerce.nic.in/trade/international_ta_current_details.asp#b22
(accessed on 24 March 2011).




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 11


granting strong tariff reductions on tea and textiles, whereas Sri Lanka allows duty-free access mostly for
raw materials and machinery. As indicated before, trade between India and Sri Lanka has accordingly
expanded significantly. However, preferences under the ISFTA involve relatively weak rules of origin with
at least 35% of the product required to be of local origin to be eligible, implying only minor disadvantages
for exporters that rely on imported raw material for processing. Pakistan also significantly reduced tariffs
and gave preferential tariff rate quotas for Sri Lanka’s essential exports of tea and clothing products.25


While the original ISFTA did not consider NTMs, subsequent trade agreements increasingly contained
provisions on NTMs in order of their chronological implementation, from PSFTA over APTA to SAFTA.26
The CEPA with India also envisages re-negotiated NTM provisions, particularly in the form of mutual
recognition agreements (MRAs) of standards and assessment procedures.27


Non-reciprocal preferences are granted to Sri Lanka under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) by
developed countries and the Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP) among developing countries.
Preferences formerly granted to Sri Lanka by the European Union and Turkey under GSP+ (Special Incentive
Arrangement for Sustainable Development and Good Governance) have been temporarily withdrawn,
effective August 2010, on account of weak implementation of human rights conventions, including child
labour. Figure 6 illustrates Sri Lanka’s involvement in trade agreements and non-reciprocal preferences.


Figure 6: Trade agreements of Sri Lanka




Source: ITC illustration based on Market Access Map data, 2010.
Note: This graph reflects, to the best of ITC knowledge, the situation as of October 2010. Bilateral trade agreements refer to India
(ISFTA) and Pakistan (PSFTA). Please note that, in addition to the bilateral free trade agreement with Sri Lanka, India is party to both
SAFTA and APTA and grants preferences under the GSTP, with Sri Lanka being one of the eligible countries.


3.1.2. Tariffs and preferences faced for agricultural commodities


Agricultural tariffs vary widely across importing countries: trade-weighted MFN tariffs range between 0.9%
and 38.4%. For the largest five importers, the trade-weighted MFN tariff is lower than its simple average.
This implies that Sri Lanka exports products that tend to be less protected in these markets, in particular
tea, than other agricultural commodities. Deviating downwards from the MFN duty, tariffs actually applied
are then determined by preferences granted under specific trade agreements. These preferential margins
are between zero and 23.0%.


The aforementioned temporary suspension of the GSP+ preferences by the European Union and Turkey
has caused much concern. When GSP+ preferences were applicable in 2009, Sri Lanka’s agricultural



25 WTO (2010). Under SAFTA, Sri Lanka is not eligible as an LDC; therefore it does not qualify for higher tariff concessions.
26 Evaluation of the original legal texts of trade agreements by ITC, 2011.
27 Government of India, Department of Commerce website: http://commerce.nic.in/trade/international_ta_current_details.asp#b22.




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12 MAR-11-207.E


exports were almost entirely eligible for duty-free entry (62.8% of all agricultural tariff lines corresponding to
99.2% of bilateral export value). This corresponded to a preferential margin of 8.6% vis-à-vis their foreign
competitors that did not benefit from any preferential trade agreement. These numbers are theoretical, as
preferences usually require compliance with the respective rules of origin and possibly other measures. Sri
Lanka’s actual utilization of GSP+ preferences for the European Union in 2008 was estimated at 84%.28
Under the current circumstances, Sri Lanka only benefits from the regular GSP. This implies reduced
preferential margins (from 8.6% to 2.2%) and significantly less duty-free access to the European Union
market (18.7% of duty free tariff lines instead of 62.8% available before the GSP+ suspension). A
hypothetical preferential margin of 2.2% remains under the GSP, which can only serve as a tentative
indication since it is counterfactually weighted by 2009 trade data (table 2).


Agricultural exports to the Russian Federation, which only comprised tea in 2009, enjoy a preferential tariff
of 2.6% below the MFN rate of 10.3% (weighted averages). Import tariffs by the United Arab Emirates and
Japan are generally lower, with weighted tariff averages only 0.9% and 4.3%, respectively. However, they
hardly grant any preferential access to Sri Lanka. In contrast, India applies very high average agricultural
MFN tariffs of about 40%, but preferential margins of 23% under the ISFTA, SAFTA and APTA are
substantial. The resulting applied tariffs to Sri Lankan exports therefore remain rather high, but still give Sri
Lanka’s exporters a significant advantage over their non-regional competitors. However, the actual
preferential margin over other regional exporters (members of SAFTA and APTA) is likely to be much
smaller.


Table 2: Tariffs applied and preferences granted by major importing partners,
agriculture and manufacturing


Major markets


Bilateral
imports Average MFN duty of


traded tariff lines
Pref. margin


(eligible)c/


Duty-free
imports


Year in US$ million


Tariff
lines
(% of
total)


Value
(% of
total) Simple Weighted


b/ Weightedb/


Agriculture
1. European Union (with GSP+)a/ 2009 409 12.6% 8.7% 8.6% 62.8% 99.2%


1. European Union (GSP, without
GSP+)* 2009 409 12.6% 8.7% 2.2% 18.7% 46.9%


2. Russian Federation 2008 215 12.0% 10.3% 2.6% 3.1% 48.4%
3. United Arab Emirates 2007 142 4.2% 0.9% 0.0% 23.8% 85.6%
4. India 2009 113 46.8% 38.4% 23.0% 88.7% 66.5%
5. Japan 2009 95 5.5% 4.3% 0.4% 30.8% 20.7%
Manufacturing
1. European Union (with GSP+)a/ 2009 2,362 5.0% 8.7% 8.7% 97.5% 99.9%


1. European Union (GSP, without
GSP+)* 2009 2,362 5.0% 8.7% 2.1% 68.7% 25.7%


2. United States 2009 1,504 7.2% 13.3% 0.3% 74.4% 18.3%
3. India 2009 214 9.7% 9.0% 7.5% 76.1% 87.2%
4. Canada 2009 83 8.5% 13.8% 1.0% 68.6% 17.0%
5. Turkey (with GSP+)a/ 2009 81 8.5% 9.4% 9.4% 93.1% 100%


Source: ITC calculations based on Trade Map and Market Access Map data, 2011.


a/ In 2009, the base year of the above calculations for the European Union, the GSP+ was applicable. Therefore, calculated tariff
preferences under the regular GSP are hypothetical and can only serve as an approximate indication for the current situation of GSP+
suspension.
b/ Weighted averages are calculated using actual bilateral trade values from the reference year.
c/ Preferential margin calculations look at the potentially eligible tariff lines under the relevant trade agreements, if any.



28 ITC calculations, 2011.




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3.1.3. Current tariffs and preferences for manufactured goods


The five largest markets for Sri Lanka’s manufacturing exports apply simple average MFN duties ranging
between 5.0% and 9.7%. As opposed to agricultural tariffs and with the exception of India, the trade-
weighted average MFN duties tend to be higher than the simple average. This indicates that the products
that Sri Lanka exports are generally sensitive to the importing countries and more protected. In the cases
of major Western markets, especially apparel is a sensitive industry. Diverging from these MFN duties,
however, tariffs applied to Sri Lanka’s exports are subject to preferential trade agreements to a certain
extent (table 2).


Under the GSP+ scheme of the European Union and Turkey, Sri Lanka received almost full duty-free
access until August 2010. Due to rules of origin and potentially other obstacles, the actual preference
utilization in 2008 was calculated at only 72%. Since the suspension of the GSP+, Sri Lanka’s current non-
reciprocal preferences granted by the European Union and Turkey under the GSP are strongly reduced.
Using 2009 trade data for weighting, only a 2.1% hypothetical preferential margin over the MFN rate would
remain for access to European Union markets (table 2).


The United States, as the second largest market, and Canada apply relatively high tariffs to the products
that Sri Lanka exports. Trade-weighted MFN rates exceed 13% and only low average preferential margins
of 0.3% and 1% are granted to Sri Lanka by the United States and Canada, respectively. While India, as a
major regional partner, applies MFN duties of about 9%, Sri Lanka’s applied preferential tariffs are reduced
to about 1.5% (table 2). This offers an advantage over non-regional competitors.


3.2. Non-tariff measures applied by Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has notified the WTO of 103 technical measures and 18 sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS)
measures (as of June 2010). The technical standards were all included in the Import Standardization and
Quality Control Regulations of 2006 and state the requirement of complying with the Sri Lanka Standard
(SLS). The national focal point in this respect is the Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI), a member of
the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which defines both standards according to
international norms and also plays a central role in providing testing and certification facilities.29 Affected
products under these technical regulations are also subject to import inspections. SPS measures mostly
concern packaging standards, meat and dairy products, plants and soils, tea, coffee and cocoa, genetically
modified food. The Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition and the SLSI are the main Sri Lankan bodies for
definition and implementation of SPS regulations.


A number of charges and levies in addition to regular duties raise the overall cost of importing significantly.
While a 15% customs surcharge on most goods was eliminated as of June 2010, the following charges
remain in place: the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) levies a cess of mostly around 20% on
many goods, including raw and processed agricultural products, rubber and plastic products, textiles and
sanitary products. The EDB cess was mentioned to have revenue purposes in order to finance the
domestic export development programme. Excise duties are applied to tobacco products, oil products,
beverages, motor vehicles and some electronics. The PAL (Ports and Airports Development Levy) adds
another 5%, with lower rates for imported inputs for later processing and export. Firms with a quarterly
turnover of over US$ 5,800 are charged a nation building tax (NBT) of 3% on their imports. Eleven
essential food products are subject to the special commodity levy that replaces all other taxes and duties
on these items. The standard value added tax (VAT) is 12%, with tax exemptions for basic foods, fertilizers
and fuels, and 20% on luxury goods.


Imports are restricted or prohibited for a few products, mainly arms, certain meats, used vehicles and some
medicaments and chemicals. Non-automatic import licensing requirements according to the Special Import
Licensing Scheme are applied to several grains, chemicals, fuels and motor vehicles. Sri Lanka has not
implemented any legislation on anti-dumping measures, countervailing duties or safeguards.


Apart from regular documentation and inspection procedures, Sri Lanka also applies a number of NTMs to
exports. The Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB) levies a specific duty on tea, the Coconut Development Authority



29 Sri Lanka Standards Institution website: http://www.slsi.lk/about-us.php (accessed on 24 March 2011).




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14 MAR-11-207.E


on raw and processed coconut products, the EDB on cashew nuts, raw hides and skins and metal scrap.
cesses and export taxes also apply to natural rubber and some quartz varieties.30 In 2009, these export
charges affected an estimated US$ 1,464 million worth of exports, or 22.3% of Sri Lanka’s total exports.31
Revenue considerations for refinancing of domestic development activities, increasing availability and
lowering prices of raw materials for higher value-added domestic processing are the most important
reasons for the levies according to official legislation. Exports are prohibited or require licensing for
sensitive product categories, such as endangered animal and plant species, arms, drugs, ivory products,
antiques and minerals.32


4. National trade and development strategies
Domestic trade promotion measures and also some wider development activities stand in close relation to
NTMs or directly concern the sectors affected by NTMs. The following paragraphs will therefore provide a
useful background for further analysis of NTMs in the following chapters.


4.1. Trade promotion and facilitation
A large part of export promotion is conducted by means of exemption from taxes and charges. The
temporary importation for export processing (TIEP) scheme relieves firms from paying fiscal levies when
importing goods for later processing and export. The scheme is divided into TIEP I that allows duty-free
imports of raw materials, components or packaging material as direct inputs for production, and the
TIEP IV that fully or partly exempts from import charges for investment goods for general business
operations of exporting firms, according to the percentage of exports in the firm’s output. While the TIEP
requires prior application to the Customs Directorate, the duty rebate scheme works on a shipment-by-
shipment basis and only refunds regular customs duties on the imported inputs for export products. The
manufacture-in-bond scheme allows storing and processing in designated warehouses without payment of
duties and taxes on imports.33 As ad-hoc measures to alleviate the impact of the recent global economic
downturn, the SVAT (simplified value added tax) scheme suspends or defers the VAT liability of direct and
indirect exporters on inputs for production,34 and the export development reward scheme assists exporters
of tea, rubber, cinnamon, clothing and leather.


As the only domestic agency, the Sri Lanka Export Credit Insurance Corporation (SLECIC) insures
exporters and provides guarantees for lending at commercial financial institutions. To expand the scope of
this rather limited financial assistance, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka has proposed an initiative to set up an
export-import (exim) bank in order to increase domestic trade facilitation.35


The Board of Investment (BOI) not only acts as a focal point for investors, but also offers tax and duty
concessions to member firms in non-traditional export sectors. Firms exporting more than 80% of goods or
70% of services are granted duty-free imports of raw materials and capital goods, as well as full tax
exemptions on new investments. Furthermore, several trade procedures are facilitated at BOI Customs,
such as import licensing, foreign exchange controls, inspections and documentation requirements. The
BOI also operates twelve export-oriented industrial areas that provide infrastructure, facilities, and
administration support services for a variety of enterprises, so-called export processing zones (EPZ). Firms
located in these EPZ are exempted from taxes and import duties. Established in 1978, today about 65% of
Sri Lanka’s exports are operated by members of the BOI.36





30 WTO (2010).
31 ITC calculations based on Trade Map data. Total exports exclude minerals and arms.
32 WTO (2010).
33 Sri Lanka Customs website: http://www.customs.gov.lk/exp_promo.htm (accessed on 24 March 2011).
34 Sri Lanka Export Development Board website: http://www.srilankabusiness.com/announ%5CExporters%5Cindex.htm (accessed on
24 March 2011).
35 Central Bank of Sri Lanka (2009).
36 Website of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka: http://www.boi.lk.




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MAR-11-207.E 15


The Sri Lankan customs system is based on the Automated System for Customs Data developed by
UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development). This customs management system is
computerized, but did not allow for the submission of documents electronically in its original version. Trade
processes were further automated with the introduction of the electronic data interchange (EDI) facility in
2002, which allows processing of trade documents such as customs declaration messages electronically.
Implementation and actual use of the EDI, however, has been very limited, with most documentation still
submitted manually.37


4.2. National development framework and infrastructure
The Mahinda Chintana aims at consistently attaining an annual GDP growth rate of at least 8%. The
strategy covers all major industries as well as infrastructure, with a particular focus on regions outside the
Western Province in order to reduce spatial inequalities.38


Given that poorer regions tend to be predominantly rural and in order to improve Sri Lanka’s food security,
the Mahinda Chintana concentrates on growth in the agricultural sector and of SMEs (small and medium-
sized enterprises). The tea, rubber and coconut plantation sectors, with their major employment and trade
significance, will be central, but diversification into higher value-added products is also among the
priorities.39 In order to protect local producers, maintaining relatively high duties on strategic agricultural
commodities is proposed until 2016.40 Active promotion measures that are already in place include
subsidized fertilizer to domestic agriculture (since 1962), with the latest scheme being introduced in 2005.
Subsidy expenditure has risen dramatically, nearly tenfold, since earlier in the decade to approximately
US$ 235 million in 2009.41 Currently, guaranteed price schemes for rubber and purchasing schemes for
paddy aim to protect producers from low international prices due to the financial crisis. In addition, the
Mahinda Chintana envisages improved technological development in the agricultural sector, including
research credits, seeds extension, and the development of irrigation infrastructure.42


The Mahinda Chintana Industrial Policy remains focused on exports and aims at diversifying the industrial
base, expanding manufacturing in rural regions, reducing dependence on imported inputs and
strengthening backward linkages. In this effort, the government intends to increase the number of EPZs to
twenty six by 2016. In addition, the policy looks to support research and development with a technology
development fund, and strengthen microenterprises, SME initiatives and infrastructure. The framework
contains both comprehensive sectoral initiatives, including the ceramic, rubber, coir, gems, spices, leather,
and apparel industries, as well as regional development initiatives. Similar to the aforementioned
exemption and rebate schemes, the Mahinda Chintana aims to provide unrestricted and duty-free access
to imported inputs and required technical services, and targets improved implementation and access to
market information.43


Situated in the path of major sea routes, Sri Lanka is a strategic naval link between West Asia and South
East Asia. Apart from the port in Colombo that handles the vast majority of shipments, there are ports in
Galle, Trincomalee and Kankesanthurai. The state-owned Sri Lanka Port Authorities (SLPA) has actively
engaged in establishing domestic ports as a major shipping hub in the region. Projects aim at significantly
increasing the capacity of the Colombo port and establishing a new major port in Hambantota, which was
inaugurated in November 2010.44 Air transport has increased with tourism since the 2002 ceasefire in the
domestic conflict and due to deregulation, and the Colombo international airport is expanding, with
ambitious aims for future capacities. While the road network is extensive, it mostly consists of single-lane
roads with low speed limits, and a lack of maintenance has caused deterioration and resulted in high



37 Wijayasiri and Jayaratne (2009).
38 Ministry of Finance and Planning of Sri Lanka (2006).
39 Ibid.
40 Central Bank of Sri Lanka (2009).
41 WTO (2010).
42 Ministry of Finance and Planning of Sri Lanka (2006).
43 Ibid.
44 Central Bank of Sri Lanka (2009) and website of the Sri Lanka Port Authorities: http://www.slpa.lk/port_hambantota.asp?chk=4
(accessed on 24 March 2011).




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16 MAR-11-207.E


transportation costs. Railroads have been suffering from very low investments, the long civil war and the
2004 tsunami, and nowadays only represent a negligible faction of cargo transport.45 Within the Mahinda
Chintana, provisions for transportation infrastructure, entitled Mahinda Randora, focus on the development
of roads in rural areas to improve market access, and at re-establishing freight transport by rail to reduce
traffic congestion and air pollution.46



45 Economist Intelligence Unit (2008).
46 Ministry of Finance and Planning of Sri Lanka (2006).




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Chapter 2 Non-tariff measures survey methodology and
implementation in Sri Lanka


1. Survey implementation
This chapter describes the implementation of the non-tariff measures (NTM) survey in Sri Lanka and gives
a concise description of the global NTM survey methodology. Detailed methodological notes are provided
in the appendices of this report. (Appendix I contains the global methodology which is a core part identical
in all surveyed countries. Appendix II on the NTM classification and appendix III on procedural obstacles
provide the taxonomy for arranging reported measures into an organized hierarchical system. Appendix IV
lists interviewed experts and stakeholders.)


1.1. Timeline and principal counterparts
As part of the ITC national capacity building work, the NTM surveys are always executed by a local
company. In Sri Lanka, the survey was implemented by Lanka Market Research Bureau Limited (LMRB).47
The project managers and interviewers of LMRB were trained by ITC staff in Sri Lanka in December 2009.
The survey was implemented between February and August 2010. In March 2010, three students from the
Master’s programme of the School of International Public Policy of Columbia University (United States)
undertook a 2-week research trip to Sri Lanka to conduct open-ended discussions with experts and
stakeholders (listed in appendix IV), based on the preliminary survey results.


Other principal counterparts of ITC in Sri Lanka include the Department of Commerce of the Ministry of
Trade of Sri Lanka, which provided invaluable guidance and support, and the Institute of Policy Studies in
Sri Lanka,48 which organized a workshop in Colombo in November 2010 to discuss the main findings of the
NTM Survey.


1.2. Survey process and modalities
During the survey preparation a comprehensive list was compiled of the exporting and importing
companies with their contact details. Companies were categorized according to their main sectors. The
survey consisted of two steps. In the first step, companies were randomly selected within each sector and
screened on the phone to identify those that experienced difficulties with NTMs. Companies were asked if
they experienced burdensome regulations that seriously impacted their export or import operations (e.g.
through high costs or very strict requirements). In the second step, the companies that reported having
experienced difficulties were interviewed face-to-face to capture information at a very detailed level.


1.3. Sample frame and selection strategy
According to Sri Lankan Customs, there are 2,575 exporters with an annual turnover in excess of SL Rs
5 million (approximately US$ 45,000), out of which 34% export agricultural products, and the remainder
specialize in manufacturing goods.49 The minerals sector is not considered in the survey, as it is dominated
by state companies and large multinationals in a very special international market. Services are also
beyond the scope of this NTM survey, as this work would require a different approach and methodology.


ITC initially received information on exporters and importers from Sri Lankan Customs. The list covered the
entire population of companies; however, it lacked information on company locations and contact details.
Therefore, the ITC team complemented the register received from Customs with the information provided



47 For further information on Lanka Market Research Bureau Limited refer to http://www.lmrbint.com/.
48 The website of the Institute of Policy Studies in Sri Lanka is http://www.ips.lk/.
49 Companies exporting services and companies exporting arms and minerals are excluded from the survey in accordance with the
global survey methodology (see appendix I for further details). Furthermore, only companies that have exported for more than SL RS
5 million per year have been included, to avoid interviewing sporadic exporters who may not have sufficient experience with NTMs.




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by the EDB, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and the National Chamber of Commerce (NCC) on its
member companies.50


The companies were interviewed in three regions, namely Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara, which,
according to the compiled business register, respectively include 61%, 21% and 5% of all Sri Lankan
companies. When companies from other regions were removed from the sample frame, the resulting
database contained 1,208 exporting companies with contact details.


Stratified random sampling by the sector of activity was used to select companies for the phone screen
interviews (figure 8 in the next sub-chapter shows the distribution of population and surveyed companies
by sector). All export sectors accounting for more than 2% of exports were included in the survey. Within
each export sector, the number of companies for phone screens was calculated as a function of the
number of companies within each sector (see appendix I for the formula and further details). Furthermore,
an effort was made to achieve representativeness by company size within each sector (figure 9). The
export destinations of companies were not taken into account for the sampling. The random sampling
within each sector ensured a good representation of various export destinations (see table 5 in chapter 3).


The selection of companies for face-to-face interviews was entirely based on the results of the phone
screens: all companies that reported on the phone having difficulties with NTMs were interviewed face-to-
face in order to obtain detailed information on the NTMs they experienced. Therefore, if a sector was less
impacted by NTMs, there were only a few companies from this sector participating in face-to-face
interviews (compare middle and right panes on figure 8 in the next sub-chapter).


1.4. Survey coverage of the phone screens and face-to-face interviews
In total 512 companies participated in the phone screen interviews. Among these companies, 412 firms
export or both export and import goods, and 100 firms only import. The survey included companies that
export their own products, including those located in export promotion zones, as well as trading agents that
are specialized in export-import operations (brokers, forwarders).


The majority of companies interviewed (69.7%) reported being strongly affected by trade barriers. These
companies were invited to participate in face-to-face interviews to record all the details of trade barriers
that they experienced. Detailed face-to-face interviews were undertaken with 177 companies of different
sizes located in different districts.51


1.5. Phone screens
In Sri Lanka, a typical phone screen averaged 7-8 minutes and was recorded using paper-based
questionnaires that were subsequently digitalized. However, LMRB phone screeners had to overcome a
large number of difficulties to execute phone screens. In the majority of cases, a call-back at a later time
was required (28%), followed by a large number of wrong contacts and no-answers (14% each), requests
to send information by regular post and lack of interest (table 3). Only about 18% of all phone calls resulted
in a successfully finished phone screen interview from the first attempt to call.



50 The EDB CD ROM database 2010 contained information on about 2,000 companies, including company name, legal status,
address, telephone, fax, website, exported products, and contact person. After exclusion of the companies exporting minerals and
services 1,400 companies remained in the sample frame. The database of the members of the CCC 2009/2010 originally included
501 exporters and importers, some of which were already present in the EDB CD ROM. The database of the NCC Directory
2007/2008 provided names and contacts information for 455 companies. Only part of these companies were engaged in international
trade (127 companies both export and import, 100 only export and 99 only import), and thus included in the NTM survey’s sample
frame.
51 Participating companies are located in the following districts and export promotion zones: Battarmulla, Boralesgamuwa, Colombo,
Dehiwela, Ethul Kotte, Gampaha, Grandpass, Hendala, Ja-Ela, Katunayaka, Kirullapona, Kohuwela, Kotte, Madapatha, Maharagama,
Malabe, Maradana, Mattegoda, Mount Lavania, Narahenpita, Nawala, Negombo, Nugegoda, Pannipitiya, Papiliyana, Peliyagoda,
Pitakotte, Rajagiriya, Rathmalana, Wattala and Welisara.




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Table 3: Typical responses for the phone screens attempts


Typical result Share in total


Call back later 28%


Wrong number 18%


No answer / busy 14%


Request to send questionnaires by regular post 13%


Not interested 9%


Reported that have not experienced burdensome NTMs or related problems 9%
Reported that have experienced burdensome NTMs or related problems
and have given appointment for face-to face interview 9%


Source: Lanka Market Research Bureau Limited, based on approximately 2,000 phone screen attempts with exporting and importing
companies


1.6. Face-to-face interviews
Phone screens identified 287 exporting companies that have experienced burdensome NTMs and other
obstacles. However, only 128 exporting companies participated in face-to-face interviews and provided the
full account of the trade barriers affecting their export and import. Importing companies had a higher
participation rate (49 out of 69 companies, or 71%) than exporting companies (41.6%).


Unwillingness to participate in the face-to-face detailed interview presented a serious challenge for the
NTM survey implementation in Sri Lanka. Among exporting companies, the highest rate of participation
(48.2%) was in the sector of processed food and agro-based products and the lowest rate (35.9%) was
recorded among exporters of textiles and clothing (figure 7).


Figure 7: Willingness to participate in face-to-face interviews among the companies that
have indicated difficulties with NTMs during phone screens



Source: ITC survey on NTMs.


The low participation rate of exporting companies can possibly be explained by the companies’
preferences not to disclose export-related problems, as these problems and solutions are seen as a
knowledge advantage over other competing firms. Furthermore, despite the confidentiality of the
interviews, the business sector may, in certain cases, be discouraged from providing honest feedback on
government agencies.


11


27


14


2


74


49


14


29


25


4


87


20


0 50 100 150 200


Exporters of fresh food and raw agro-based products


Exporters of processed food and agro-based products


Exporters of textile and clothing


Exporters of chemicals, plastics and rubber based products


Exporters of other manufacturing products


Importers - all sectors


Number of affected companies that participated in face-to-face interviews


Number of affected companies that did not agree to participate in face-to-face interviews




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20 MAR-11-207.E


The face-to-face interviews were conducted in English with oral translation to local languages (Sinhala and
Tamil) whenever necessary. Most of the participants were senior managers or export/import specialists
(table 4).


Table 4: Functions of the respondents


Functions of respondents Number of respondents


Manager 66


CEO, director 59


Executive staff members 11


Accountant 8


Assistant manager 6


Senior staff members 6


Chief of a section 5


Proprietor, partner 7


Not specified 9


Total 177
Source: ITC survey on NTMs.


The interviews were conducted by 10 specially trained employees of LMRB using a predefined
questionnaire. The surveys were recorded by the interviewers using paper-based questionnaires
(interviewer-led process). The results of the interviews were digitalized using Excel-based data capturing
files provided by ITC.


1.7. Implementation challenges
The NTM survey implementation in Sri Lanka had some challenges. The survey was conducted soon after
the end of the prolonged conflict. It was the first company-level survey of such scale and nature in Sri
Lanka, which required the local partner LMRB to recruit extra staff and request intensive training from ITC.
ITC has provided LMRB project managers and interviewers with comprehensive training on the survey
methodology and NTM classification, and provided survey related materials.52


ITC invested considerable time and effort in constructing the business register of Sri Lankan exporting and
importing companies, using various sources. A comprehensive business register was not available in the
country prior to the survey, but was critical for the success and representativeness of the survey results.
This register has now been made available to the LMRB and local stakeholders and all further company
surveys are now much easier to realize.


Despite difficulties encountered, the survey proved to be a valuable and feasible instrument for collecting
information on NTMs and related trade barriers. The results can be very informative for policymakers, trade
support institutions and the private sector concerning the existing features and constraints of the Sri
Lankan trade regime with regard to NTMs, and that of Sri Lankan partner countries.





52 The NTM survey toolkit includes: ITC NTM survey methodology (2009); phone screen questionnaire, face-to-face questionnaire and
corresponding Excel-based data capturing tables; ITC NTM survey classification booklet for interviewers (2009), predefined list of
procedural obstacles and other obstacles to trade-related to business environment; survey factsheets for capturing metadata,
invitation letter to respondents, support and training materials.




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MAR-11-207.E 21


2. Survey representativeness
Despite difficulties related to the business register and low response rate, the survey is representative by
export sector (figure 8), with the majority of the interviews undertaken with the companies in the largest
sectors, such as fresh food and raw agro-based products (7.5% of all companies interviewed on the
phone), processed food and agro-based products (18%) and textile and clothing (13.4%).


A number of interviews were undertaken with companies in the sector of chemicals, plastics and rubber-
based products. Even though exports of these products represent less than 1% of total exports, this sector
is a critical link in the value chain representing important inputs to the leading export sectors – clothing and
tea (figure 8).


Figure 8: Survey representativeness by main export sector
Population of exporting firms Phone screen interviews with


exporters
Face-to-face interviews with


exporters





Source: ITC survey on NTMs.


At first sight it appears that the ‘Other manufacturing’ sector is over-represented in the phone screen
interviews (242 interviews, middle pane of figure 8) and face-to-face interviews (74 companies, right pane
of figure 8). However, this stems from the fact that companies are counted only once in their main sector of
activity – to avoid double counting the same company in several sectors. In reality, producer companies
are often active in 2-3 sectors (e.g. importing chemical fertilizers and exporting tea), while trading agents
and importing companies can be active in 5-6 sectors. For example, out of 74 companies in ‘other
manufacturing’, 11 companies export clothing and 9 companies export chemicals.


Sri Lanka does not use a nation-wide definition of small and medium-sized enterprises. For the NTM
Survey, the following definition was used:


 Small company: up to 49 employees
 Medium-sized company: 50 to 249 employees
 Large company: above 250 employees


Another alternative could have been to use a definition based on financial indicators (turnover or export
value). Yet, headcount is preferable as companies are reluctant to disclose their financial information
during the survey.




587


263


521


14


1,122


31


74


55


10


242


11


27


14


2


74


Fresh food and raw agro-based products Processed food and agro-based products


Textile and clothing Chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products


Other manufacturing




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22 MAR-11-207.E


Figure 9: Survey representativeness by company size
Population of exporting firms Phone screen interviews with


exporters
Face-to-face interviews with


exporters






Source: ITC survey on NTMs.


The NTM survey sample in Sri Lanka is representative by the size of the companies, as evidenced in figure
3.3. Among exporters in Sri Lanka, 1,120 companies are small (45%), correspondingly 155 small
companies were sampled and interviewed on the phone (middle pane of figure 9). This represents 38% of
all phone screened companies. Face-to-face interviews were undertaken with 57 small exporters
(representing 45%), yet this is not the result of a sampling. Companies are sampled for phone screens, but
the number of companies for face-to-face interviews is not decided during the survey design, but depends
on the share of affected companies and their willingness to participate in the face-to-face interviews.


The company size ratio also holds well within each sector (the number of small companies is presented in
the analysis of each sector). The representativeness is an important achievement, as it allows for the
extrapolation of survey results to the entire population of companies.


1,120


624


763
155


127


113


17


57


32


29


10


Small companies Medium-sized companies Large companies Non specified




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MAR-11-207.E 23


Chapter 3 Survey results on companies’ experiences with non-
tariff measures


This chapter is dedicated to the analysis of the NTM (non-tariff measure) survey findings. It starts with
aggregate country level results focusing on the affected sectors, major problems and their location. Then,
the problems reported by exporting and importing companies are analysed sector-by-sector, focusing on
product-specific ITC survey findings. Agricultural commodities will be treated in the subsequent two
sections, followed by three sections on manufacturing goods.


1. Aggregate results


1.1. Affected sectors
The share of affected companies is very high in Sri Lanka, both in absolute terms and in relative terms –
considering the NTM survey results in other countries. Across exporting companies, on average, 69.7%
experience serious difficulties with NTMs (table 5). During phone screens in Sri Lanka, also 69 out of 98
importing companies have reported serious hindrances stemming from NTMs. Thus, 70.4% of importing
companies are affected. The results in Sri Lanka are comparable to those in Burkina Faso where 68% of
all companies are reportedly affected by trade barriers. For comparison, the least problematic export
operations are in Hong Kong SARC with only 23.1% of exporting enterprises reporting NTMs and other
obstacles.


The results of the NTM surveys have confirmed that NTMs are sector-specific. Exporters in the fresh food
sector most commonly reported trade barriers (80.6% of contacted companies), followed by companies
exporting processed agricultural commodities (75.7%). This is somewhat expected, as agricultural
products include food and feed, and their control is essential for ensuring the health and well-being of
consumers and protection of the environment. All major importing markets have established special control
systems related to products destined for direct consumption by people and animals, such as the Rapid
Alert System for Food and Feed of the European Union. The manufacturing export sector seems less, but
still highly affected by NTMs and other obstacles: textiles and clothing products (70.6%), chemicals,
plastics and rubber-based products (60%) and other manufactures (66.5%).


Table 5: Share of exporters affected by NTMs or other obstacles to trade, by sector


Main export sector
(as reported during


phone screens)


Total export
value in 2009
(US$ ‘000)a/


Sector's
share in


total export


Number of
companies


interviewed on
the phone


Number of
companies
affected by


NTMs or other
obstacles


Share of
affected


companies


Fresh food and raw agro-
based products 1,851,980 28.3% 31 25 80.6%


Processed food and agro-
based products 245,353 3.7% 74 56 75.7%


Textiles and clothing 681,521 10.4% 55 39 70.9%


Chemicals, plastics and
rubber based products 346,623 5.3% 10 6 60.0%


Other manufacturing 3,409,469 52.2% 242 161 66.5%


Total 6,534,946 100% 412 287 69.7% 
Source: ITC survey on NTMs and ITC calculations based on Trade Map data.
a/ Minerals, arms and ammunitions are excluded.


Note: This table is based on phone screen interviews. Companies that both export and import are counted once – together with
exporting companies.




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24 MAR-11-207.E


Table 5 summarizes these results based on the single main export sector of each company (to avoid
double counting), but in general companies would be active in more than one sector. For example, even
though only 10 companies declared ‘chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products’ as their main export
sector, the survey has actually covered 24 firms that export these products. Most of these companies
(64%) are trading agents that are active in multiple sectors, who selected ‘other manufacturing’ as their
main export sector.


In Sri Lanka, the most affected specific product is tea, as included in the group ‘coffee, tea, maté53 and
spice’ (also most-affected in Uganda), followed by ‘apparel and clothing accessories’ (similar to Peru and
Tunisia).54 For comparison, exporters in the Philippines, Thailand and Uganda also reported that edible
fruits and nuts were among products most difficult to export (just above 9% of all reports in each of these
countries were related to edible fruits and nuts). Other products of most concern to interviewed exporters
include electrical machinery (7%) in India, wood and related articles (11.5%) in the Philippines, apparel and
clothing accessories, not knitted or crocheted (13%) in Tunisia, and coffee, tea, maté and spices (18.5%)
in Uganda. These results, however, may reflect the export structure of the surveyed country. The largest
export sectors are likely to attract large absolute number of reports.


Each sector is addressed in detail in subsequent sections. The tea sector is analysed first, followed by the
remaining group of raw and processed agricultural commodities. The combined textiles and clothing
industry is the third sector to be treated. Chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products are then
discussed before looking at a sample of all other manufacturing goods.


1.2. Major problems with non-tariff measures and applying countries
The NTM surveys differentiate between burdensome NTMs, procedural obstacles (POs) and problems with
the trade-related business environment (TBE). NTMs are mandatory regulations introduced by competent
authorities of the exporting (producing) and importing countries, for example, a requirement that the label
of food products has to contain an indication on the presence of gluten and nuts (see appendix II for the full
NTM classification). POs are problems related to the manner in which a regulation is applied or
implemented, which can include inefficiencies, discrimination or delays (see appendix III for a full list and
classification). An inefficient TBE can cause similar problems also without being directly related to specific
NTMs. From an aggregate perspective, the following paragraphs list the predominant burdensome NTMs
and where they occur, before turning to POs and difficulties with the TBE. A detailed discussion reserved
for later sections in this chapter analyses results sector by sector.


1.2.1. Most common non-tariff measures on exports and imports


As it was also found in all other surveyed countries so far, technical measures, i.e. technical requirements
and related conformity assessment to demonstrate compliance, are the most frequently reported NTMs for
both export and imports (left panes in figure 10). The proportion of conformity assessment, however,
notably exceeds the survey results from other countries: conformity assessment accounts for 30% of all
NTMs experienced both when exporting and when importing. Thus, in the case of exports they are equally
common as the technical requirements per se (upper left pane in figure 10). This may indicate that many of
Sri Lanka’s export products are compliant with the technical requirements imposed by importing countries;
yet, exporting companies have difficulties demonstrating compliance with these requirements. When
importing, companies even reported more cases of conformity assessment than technical requirements
(30% and 11% of all import cases, respectively). Already at this early stage of the analysis, these patterns
hint at a lack of domestic testing and certification facilities and other related POs. A detailed evaluation of
this issue is presented in the following sections about the specific affected sectors.


As mentioned in chapter 2, a number of charges are levied by Sri Lanka both on exports and imports. Their
impact and perception are reflected in the export-related measures and taxes, charges and para-tariff
measures categories, respectively. Export-related measures, i.e. NTMs applied to exports by Sri Lanka
itself, make up a significant 15% of cases reported by exporting firms. For comparison, import operations
were affected by such measures, which are then applied by the exporting partner countries, in only 5% of

53 Maté is a South American infused drink of herbs, similar to tea.
54 These specific product groups are defined at the 2-digit level of the Harmonized System.




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MAR-11-207.E 25


the import cases. On the import-side, charges applied by Sri Lanka in addition to regular duties stand out
with a 27% share of reported NTM cases.


Problems with rules of origin and finance measures constitute further recurring problems for Sri Lankan
exporters, with 11% and 10% of NTM cases respectively (upper left pane in figure 10). The former group of
problems stands in close connection to non-reciprocal trade preferences and regional trade agreements
(see also chapter 2), while the latter mostly refer to unfavourable terms of payments. Affecting Sri Lankan
companies’ import operations (lower left pane in figure 10), other reported NTMs are finance measures
(9% of import NTM cases), non-technical pre-shipment inspections (8%) and quantitative restrictions (7%).


Figure 10: Survey results overview, by main categories of problems
  Burdensome NTMs POs and difficulties related to TBE


Experienced while
exporting goods


 


 


Experienced while
importing goods


   


 
 

Source: ITC survey on NTMs.


11%


30%


8%


27%


7%


9%


3%
5%


n= 115


10%


11%


25%


5%
12%4%


3%


5%


25%


n= 451


30%


30%


0.3%
3%


0%


10%


11%


15%


1%


n= 295


8%
1%


22%


12%


13%
5%


3%
2%


34%


n= 362




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26 MAR-11-207.E


1.2.2. Partner countries reported to be applying non-tariff measures


In absolute terms, NTMs on exports to the European Union and the United States, but also to India, were
mentioned most often in the reports of the Sri Lankan companies. This is similar to the results in other
surveyed countries, where either the European Union (in Burkina Faso, Hong Kong SAR, India, Peru,
Thailand, Tunisia and Uganda) or the United States (in Chile and the Philippines) account for the highest
number of complaints. Again, this result may be biased against large importing markets that are frequently
covered in the survey sample (table 6).


Table 6: NTMs applied by partner countries


Export valuea/ Surveyed companies Reported NTM cases


Partner country


Sri
Lankan
export


value in
2009


(US$ ‘000)


Share
in total


Sri
Lankan
export
value


Number of
surveyed


companies
that export to


this
destinationc/


Number of
surveyed


companies
that


reported
NTMs


applied by
this export
destination


Share of
affected


companies
among
those


exporting
to this


destination


Number of
product-
specific


NTM cases
reported to
be applied


by this
destination


Share in
total


reported
product-
specific


NTM
cases


European
Unionb/ 2,480,802 38.0% 173 33 19.1% 94 37.6%
United States 1,561,316 23.9% 68 16 23.5% 31 12.4%
India 311,932 4.8% 30 8 26.7% 16 6.4%
United Arab
Emirates 207,089 3.2% 18 3 16.7% 12 4.8%
Russian
Federation 192,779 2.9% 12 1 8.3% 1 0.4%
Iran (Islamic
Republic of) 145,918 2.2% 5 1 20.0% 2 0.8%
Japan 133,898 2.0% 42 6 14.3% 16 6.4%
Syrian Arab
Republic 131,953 2.0% 2 2 100.0% 2 0.8%
Turkey 112,520 1.7% 7 3 42.9% 9 3.6%
Singapore 82,101 1.3% 17 3 17.6% 2 0.8%
Australia 80,667 1.2% 30 7 23.3% 10 4.0%
Canada 72,487 1.1% 18 2 11.1% 2 0.8%
Hong Kong SAR 62,408 1.0% 7 2 28.6% 2 0.8%
Mexico 58,941 0.9% 4 2 50.0% 12 4.8%
Pakistan 54,152 0.8% 9 2 22.2% 11 4.4%
Other 845,983 12.9% 160 28 17.5% 28 11.2%
Total 6,534,946 100% 602 119 19.8% 250 100%


Source: ITC survey on NTMs and ITC calculations based on Trade Map data.


a/ Excluding minerals and arms.
b/ The export value of the European Union only refers to all member countries. The individual countries reported to be applying
burdensome NTMs are: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. They jointly account for
US$ 2,222,988,000 of Sri Lanka’s export value.
c/ Companies exporting to several destinations are counted once for every destination. Therefore the total in this table is higher than
the total number of companies interviewed.


Putting in relation the number of affected companies with those actually exporting to the respective
destinations shows that, among these largest markets, exports to India were felt to be the most
cumbersome (see columns 4 to 6 in table 6). From this perspective, exports to some smaller markets like




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MAR-11-207.E 27


Hong Kong SAR, Syrian Arab Republic and Turkey also appear difficult. Looking at the share of destination
markets in the total reported NTM cases (last column in table 6), several other small markets also stand
out: Australia and countries accounting for less than one per cent of Sri Lanka’s exports, particularly
Mexico and Pakistan. However, when looking at small partner countries, results may not be fully
representative at this level of disaggregation.


1.3. Challenges due to procedural obstacles and inefficiencies of the trade-
related business environment


1.3.1. Domestic authorities and in partner countries


In general, POs and TBE-related problems can take place in the home country and in partner countries. In
Sri Lanka, most of these obstacles are domestic (668 out of 813 cases). This applies to exports (63%
domestic obstacles) and even more to imports (97.6%). In contrast to NTMs on exports that were reported
to be applied by domestic authorities in only 15% of the cases, it therefore stands out that POs and
inefficiencies of the TBE add a significant domestic dimension of export-related problems. In the case of
imports, both NTMs and other obstacles occur domestically to an almost full extent (tables 7 and 8, figure
10).


Table 7: Procedural obstacles and inefficient trade-related business environment in Sri
Lankan agencies


POs/TBE affecting exports POs/TBE affecting imports


Location of obstacles
Number of
obstacles
reported


Share in
total


obstacles
Location of obstacles


Number of
obstacles
reported


Share in
total


obstacles


Customs 93 40.79% Customs 246 55.91%


Forest Authority 12 5.26% Port Authorities 27 6.14%


Port Authorities 11 4.82% Dept. of Import and Export Control 7 1.59%


BOI 6 2.63%
Ministry of Defence and
Ceylon Petroleum
Corporation


6 1.36%


Plant Quarantine Service 6 2.63% Chamber of Commerce 5 1.14%


EDB 2 0.88% SLSI 5 1.14%
Airport Authority 2 0.88% Dept. of Commerce 4 0.91%
Coconut Development
Authority 2 0.88% TRC 4 0.91%


Dept. of Agriculture 2 0.88% CDD 3 0.68%
Dept. of Commerce 2 0.88% Dept. of Inland Revenue 3 0.68%
Fisheries Dept. 2 0.88% Health Ministry 2 0.45%
Chamber of Commerce 1 0.44% Sri Lankan Airlines 2 0.45%
Finance Ministry 1 0.44% BOI 1 0.23%


Dept. of Inland Revenue 1 0.44% National Gem and Jewellery Authority 1 0.23%


Sri Lankan Airlines 1 0.44% Environment Ministry 1 0.23%
Dept. of Import and
Export Control 1 0.44% Agency not specified 123 27.95%


Agency not specified 83 36.40%
Total 228 100.0% Total 440 100.0%


Source: ITC survey on NTMs.


Domestically, the most reported Sri Lankan agency allegedly causing difficulties is Customs: 40.8% of all
domestic cases affecting exports and 55.9% of those affecting imports (table 8). However, the issues with




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28 MAR-11-207.E


the Customs are a priori likely to be reported more often than other agencies. For example, Forest
Authority or Coconut Development Authority are mentioned only by a subset of companies dealing with
forestry or coconut products, while every exporter and importer has to deal with Customs for every
transaction. Accordingly, sector-specific institutions reported to cause obstacles for export and import
operations reflect Sri Lanka’s trade structure: ministries and authorities in the area of agriculture are
mentioned more frequently by exporters, while technical, manufacturing-related entities are more common
among importing firms. The following sections with sector analyses will go into further detail, particularly
with respect to the aforementioned sector-specific agencies.


Table 8: Procedural obstacles and inefficient trade-related business environment in
partner countries


POs/TBE affecting exports POs/TBE affecting imports


Location of obstacles
Number of
obstacles
reported


Share in
total


obstacles
Location of obstacles


Number of
obstacles
reported


Share in
total


obstacles
European Union* 57 42.54% China 3 27.27%
United States 15 11.19% India 3 27.27%
India 14 10.45% Bangladesh 1 9.09%
Mexico 12 8.96% Hong Kong SAR 1 9.09%
Pakistan 12 8.96% Malaysia 1 9.09%
United Arab Emirates 12 8.96% Singapore 1 9.09%
Australia 4 2.99% Chinese Taipei 1 9.09%
Japan 3 2.24%
China 1 0.75%
Malaysia 1 0.75%
Maldives 1 0.75%
Singapore 1 0.75%
Republic of Korea 1 0.75%
Total 134 100% Total 11 100%


Source: ITC survey on NTMs.


* The following individual countries were reported in the survey: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and the
United Kingdom.


For exports, the distribution of POs or TBE-related problems across partner countries mostly resembles
the respective occurrence of NTMs. This is scarcely surprising, since many of these obstacles are directly
or indirectly related to NTMs in the same countries. European Union countries account for a large share,
about 42.5%, of the cases. Mexico, the United Arab Emirates and the United States, along with regional
partners India and Pakistan, each represent between 9% and 11%. Again, more detail will be provided in
the following sections. The very few problems with POs and the TBE encountered abroad when importing
are exclusively attributed to Asian countries.


1.3.2. Recurring types of procedural obstacles and problems with the trade-related
business environment


Both exporters and importers unanimously identify delays as the most frequent PO and TBE-problem: 22%
of all cases related to exports and 25% of cases related to imports (right panes of figure 10). Delays were
encountered across almost all institutions and partner countries, both developed and developing. For
example, frequent mentions refer to hold-ups due to lack of electronic customs systems and slow
inspection procedures without the use of modern X-ray equipment.


A second large set of obstacles can be composed as a group of inconsistencies and anomalies:
inconsistent classification of products; other inconsistent or arbitrary behaviour of officials; unusually high
fees and charges; and informal payments. They jointly account for more than a third of obstacles on
exports and imports (see figure 10). Irrespective of the direction of trade, such problems are almost always




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MAR-11-207.E 29


mentioned as occurring in Sri Lanka, with some exceptions of high fees also in various partner countries. It
is notable in this respect that high fees in partner countries tend not to be reported as bribes. However,
domestic informal payments represent an alarming share of over 12% of all PO/TBE cases.


Infrastructural challenges, such as limited facilities, technical constraints and low security levels, are also
predominantly domestic, and jointly account for 8% and 11% of obstacles for exports and imports,
respectively. Limited testing and certification facilities are a particular concern, as pointed out before with
respect to conformity assessment NTMs.


The following sections about Sri Lanka’s main export and import sectors will expand the analysis of POs
and the TBE. Particularities of the respective sectors and connections between NTMs and other obstacles
will receive further attention.


2. Tea


2.1. The vital role of the tea sector
Tea is a vital component of Sri Lanka’s economy, representing 16.7% of total Sri
Lankan exports in 2009.55 The tea sector employs and provides the livelihood for a
large share of the population and is one of the main sources of foreign exchange.56
Sri Lanka produced an unprecedented quantity of tea in the first six months of 2010
(166,900 tons) exceeded only by China, India and Kenya.57


At the global level, Sri Lanka has recently lost its position as the world’s largest tea
exporter in quantity terms (to Kenya in 2007 and to China in 2009), but maintains its position as the leading
exporter in value terms, accounting for 24.9% of world exports in 2009. The value of exports of Sri Lankan
tea has been growing steadily over the last four years, outstripping average world export growth, and
reaching US$ 1,177 million in 2009. In quantity terms however, the supply of Sri Lankan tea has on the
average declined slightly over the last four years, meaning Sri Lankan tea has been attracting higher prices
in the international markets than its major competitors.58 The higher unit value of Sri Lankan tea exports
goes in line with the national policy aimed at moving up the value chain by focusing on more value-added
products, branding and marketing Sri Lankan teas as the best in class (e.g. Ceylon tea brand above).59


The tea sector was, however, affected by the economic crisis 2008–2009, with a 6% per annum decrease
in the export value of tea, exceeding the average world decrease of 5% per annum. Sri Lanka’s main
competitors, China and Kenya, managed to slightly increase their tea exports even at the time of the crisis,
while Indian tea exports decreased only by 1% per annum over 2008–2009 compared with an average
world decline of 5%. Yet, compared with other Sri Lankan export sectors, its tea exports did well. The value
of Sri Lanka’s total exports fell by 13% per annum, which is less than the reduction in exports of apparel,
rubber and precious stones.


2.2. Affected companies
As the introduction shows, Sri Lankan tea exporters are among the most competitive in the world. Still, the
majority of tea exporters interviewed reported that they struggle with burdensome NTMs, POs and the
TBE.60 In-depth face-to-face interviews were conducted with 16 affected tea exporters, five of which are
companies specialized in the export process and services, such as agents, brokers, forwarding companies
and trade logistics services providers (hereafter referred to as ‘trading agents’).

55 ITC calculations based on Trade Map data, 2010.
56 United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (1999).
57 Sri Lanka Tea Board (2010).
58 Calculations are bases on unit values (the average value per unit of quantity of the commercial transactions) sourced from ITC
Trade Map. Unit value is not a selling price of the goods, but remains a good proxy for comparison across different markets.
59 Ministry of Finance and Planning of Sri Lanka (2006); from WTO (2010).
60 77% of agricultural exporters report being affected by trade barriers. As the main agricultural product is tea (representing 67.5% of
total Sri Lankan agricultural exports) it is likely that the share of affected tea exporters is close to 77%.




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30 MAR-11-207.E


Table 9: Export of tea: burdensome NTMs applied by partner countries
Reported export products Export to the world Number of reported NTM cases


HS product
code (as


reported)
Product code description


(abridged)


Product’s
export value


in 2009
(US$ ’000)


Share of
product in


the sector’s
export value*


Technical
require-


ments
Conformity


assessment
Terms of


payment


Price
control


measures
Sub-


total


Countries reported to
apply burdensome NTMs


(number of cases)


090240
Black fermented tea and
partly fermented tea (packing
of > 3 kg)


662,948 56.3% 5 - - 3 8
Islamic Rep. of Iran (2),
Syrian Ar. Rep. (2),
Turkey (2), the Russian
Federation, Ukraine


09024001


Black fermented tea and
partly fermented tea (packing
of > 3 kg), wholly of Sri
Lanka origin black tea


n.a.** n.a.** - 5 5 - 10
Australia (2), Chile (2),
Hong Kong SAR (2),
Japan (2), Kuwait (2)


Total 662,948 56.3% 5 5 5 3 18


Table 10: Export of tea: burdensome NTMs applied by Sri Lankan authorities
Reported export products Export to the world Number of reported NTM cases


HS product
code (as


reported)
Product code description (abridged)


Product’s
export value


in 2009
(US$ ’000)


Share of
product in


the sector’s
export value*


Export
inspection


and
certification


Export
taxes and


charges


Export price
control


measures
Measures on


re-export
Export


licences
Sub-


total


090210 Green tea (packing of <= 3 kg) 26,809 2.3% 1 1 - - 2
090220 Green tea (packing of > 3 kg) 2,568 0.2% - - - - 1 1


090230 Black fermented tea and partly fermented tea (packing <= 3 kg) 485,070 41.2% - 1 - 1 - 2


090240 Black fermented tea and partly fermented tea (packing of > 3 kg) 662,948 56.3% 2 1 1 - - 4


09024001
Black fermented tea and partly
fermented tea (packing of > 3 kg),
wholly of Sri Lanka origin black tea


n.a.** n.a.** - - 1 - - 1


0902XX Tea, whether or not flavoured. n.a.** n.a.** 1 - - - - 1
Total 1,177,395 100% 4 3 2 1 1 11


Source: ITC survey on NTMs and ITC calculations based on Trade Map data.
* Total export value of tea is US$ 1,177,395,000.
**Trade data (value and share) is reported only for products on HS 6-digit level for consistency reasons.


Note on problems reported by trading agents: Tables 9 and 10 are based on the NTM cases reported by companies producing and importing tea. Trading agents have not reported any
NTM cases, only POs/TBE (see table 11).




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MAR-11-207.E 31


The survey uncovered systematic differences in the experience of trading agents and companies
producing and exporting tea. Trading agents have no difficulties with NTMs, while companies producing
and exporting tea have reported 29 cases of burdensome regulations (on average 2.6 NTM cases per
affected company that participated in face-to-face interviews). Out of the 29 reported cases, 18 cases
(62%) are applied by the partner countries importing tea and 11 cases (37%) are applied by Sri Lanka
(tables 9 and 10).


Both tea producers and trading agents are negatively affected by POs and an inefficient TBE. Tea
companies reported 28 PO/TBE cases in total, while trading agents recorded 13 cases. On average, tea
companies and trading agents are equally affected (2.6 PO/TBE cases per affected company in both
categories), with the overwhelming majority of all cases (71%) originating in Sri Lanka itself and not in
partner countries (table 11).


The differences between exporting companies and trading agents are striking, but at the same time
intuitive. Trading companies specializing in the export of tea have a good understanding of technical and
other export regulations as this is their core business. Maintaining the same export expertise in the
company producing tea, especially smallholders, is costly because import requirements vary from country
to country.


2.3. Non-tariff measures applied by partner countries
The burdensome NTMs on the import of tea are reported to
be applied by Australia, Chile, Egypt, Hong Kong SAR,
Japan, Kuwait, the Russian Federation, Syrian Arab
Republic, Turkey and Ukraine (table 9). All these countries
are among the top 20 importers of Sri Lankan tea. The
reported NTM cases are distributed evenly across partners,
suggesting that no major partner is imposing more restrictive
requirements than other importing countries. However,
companies exporting tea to the countries of the Middle East
reported delays and high fees encountered in their
embassies. Similar difficulties with the embassies of the Middle East countries were observed in other
countries surveyed, for example in the Philippines.


2.3.1. Difficult technical regulations


Most of the burdensome NTMs applied by the importing countries (56% of all cases) are technical
requirements (related to product) and conformity assessment (procedures to demonstrate that the product
fulfils or conforms to the requirements of technical regulations). The limit on the moisture content in tea is
one of the reported technical measures, while the certificate
required by the importing countries is an example of a
reported conformity assessment requirement.


Open-ended discussions with experts and stakeholders in
Sri Lanka brought similar conclusions. The NTMs most
frequently cited by experts include technical measures, most
predominantly pesticide and MCPA herbicide61 residue level.
However, technical requirements per se are less of a
problem. Ceylon tea is widely recognized as one of the
highest quality black teas, and it is generally in compliance
with the technical measures required by major importing
countries. The problem is with the certificates documenting
conformity with technical measures, as these certificates require time, incur additional costs, and vary
depending on the importing country. The NTM survey results confirm that only small companies have
reported problems with technical requirements, while for larger companies, the problem is with the
conformity assessment.

61 2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid herbicide.


‘When exporting tea to Middle East countries,
some buyers have a requirement to legalize
export documentation through their local
embassies in Sri Lanka. This is costly and
causes delays in the export process.’


A tea producer exporting to Egypt, Kuwait and
Syrian Arab Republic (ITC survey on NTMs)


‘The European Union and Japan have
different MCPA herbicide residue allowance
in tea. The problems arising from technical
measures were usually not from the inability
to comply with the requirement, but the
administrative burden of keeping records of
different requirements from each country.’


Interview in the Industrial Technology Institute
(ITI) in Sri Lanka




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32 MAR-11-207.E


2.3.2. Terms of payment and price control measures


Among other difficulties reported by Sri Lankan tea exporters are
credit constraints and price control measures, amounting to 17% and
10% of all cases respectively (tables 9 and 10).


A medium-sized Sri Lankan company exporting tea to Asian,
European, and Latin American countries has difficulties with letters of
credit. The company is unable to offer importers to defer payments by
more than 30 days. Similar difficulties were reported by Sri Lankan
companies across different export sectors. The problem is, however,
not connected to the policies of the importing countries. It has to do


with the exporters in other tea producing countries that compete with Sri Lankan exporters by offering more
favourable terms of payment to their importing counterparts.


The Islamic Republic of Iran, Syrian Arab Republic and Turkey are reported to apply low price ceilings on
the imports of tea. This leads to a reduced incentive of Sri Lankan tea producers to export to these
countries. This can have a possible impact on the geographic diversification of the Sri Lankan tea exports.


2.4. Non-tariff measures applied by Sri Lanka
Despite strong efforts from the authorities to promote tea exports, some NTMs applied by Sri Lanka
negatively affect tea exporters. These NTMs represent 38% of all reported burdensome NTMs and affect
all products (Harmonized System 6-digit level) of the tea sector. These NTMs are mostly comprised of
quality assurance (technical measures and related conformity assessment, 36% of all measures applied by
Sri Lanka) and export taxes (27%). Export licensing, export price control measures and measures on re-
export are the other NTMs that surveyed companies find difficult (table 11).


2.4.1. Export quality assurance requirements and capacities


Sri Lanka is promoting a value-added export strategy. It involves a strong emphasis on the quality of its
tea, and a shift from bulk tea exports to the packaged branded tea for end consumers (this shift is already
evident in the export statistics). In addition, in 2010 Sri Lanka further disaggregated its tariff schedule for
tea products. Certain 6-digit codes of the HS now have as many as 13 different national tariff lines for
products – depending on whether it is certified by SLTB as ‘wholly of Sri Lankan origin’, and on the weight,
packing and flavouring of tea.62


The value-added strategy requires strong control of the quality of the exported tea. However, according to
the open-ended discussions with experts, there is a lack of testing facilities in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, even
when the testing is done, many overlapping certificates are apparently requested by different authorities,
causing delays and increasing costs. According to one tea exporter interviewed, the company needs to
submit three SPS certificates requested by the Tea board, Department of Agriculture and the Ministry of
Health and Nutrition, which require around a week of time and SL Rs 4,000 (approximately US$ 35).


2.4.2. Export taxes


The SLTB, under the Ministry of Plantation Industries, is
the main official agency responsible for the development
and promotion of the tea industry. It regulates and
monitors most aspects of the industry, including
cultivation, production, pricing, marketing, and trade. The
Tea Board imposes a cess on tea exports of currently SL
Rs 4 per kg.63 Interviewed exporters find this tax excessive
and say it reduces their international competitiveness.



62 Hemaratne (2010).
63 WTO (2010).


‘[There are] problems with deferred
payments: 30 to 90 days [are]
asked by importers. If we offer 30
days another exporter will offer 60
days credit to the importer.’


Sri Lankan tea exporter (ITC
survey on NTMs)


‘Cess rates to the Sri Lanka Tea Board are high.’    
‘Charges and taxes on tea are very high and
vary from time to time. [...] As a result we are
unable to compete in the world market.’


Sri Lankan tea exporters (ITC survey on NTMs)




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MAR-11-207.E 33


2.4.3. Measures on goods imported for processing and further export


Sri Lankan policies towards exports are complex. On the one hand,
the authorities tax tea exports; and on the other hand, they
implement export incentives. At present, there are three main
incentive schemes in operation handled by the Sri Lanka Customs
Bonds Division: Duty Rebate Scheme, TIEP Scheme and
Manufacture in Bonds Scheme.64 One of the companies interviewed
benefiting from the TIEP Scheme (allowing duty-free imports of
inputs) was concerned with the delays and complexity of the scheme.
Thus, even export promotion activities can be regarded by exporters
as barriers if they are not effectively implemented.


2.5. Procedural obstacles and inefficient trade-related business environment
Exporters can be affected by NTMs (regulations) but also by the manner in which NTMs are implemented,
and in general by an inefficient business environment. For Sri Lankan exporters, the main concern is red
tape – delays, bribes and discriminatory behaviour of officials, with the majority of cases (73% of PO/TBE


cases) occurring in Sri Lanka (first four categories in table 11).


Tea producers and trading agents report on average 2.6 PO/TBE
cases per affected company. The average number of problems is the
same, but their types differ. Tea producers report difficulties with
numerous administrative windows, documentation and access to
information, which are not affecting trading agents. Only trading
agents were concerned with the lack of the facilities in the ports
(table 11). For both types of companies, the overwhelming majority of


problems were encountered with Sri Lanka’s Customs Authority. Ports Authorities and the Tea Board were
also reported among agencies where obstacles were experienced (table 11).


According to the Trade Policy Review (TPR) of Sri Lanka undertaken by the World Trade Organization
(WTO) Secretariat, ‘Importers and exporters must submit a
completed CUSDEC (customs declaration) form to Customs, with all
other relevant documents. These documents include: a delivery
order, bill of lading; invoice; exchange documents; packing list;
certificate of origin; certificate of registration, [...] a load port survey
certificate for food items; and, if applicable, an import licence, an SPS
or quarantine certificate. [...] Exported cargo may be put in the green
or red channel. The Chief Export Officer decides the type of
examination required for cargo placed in the red channel.’ 65 Surveyed
tea exporters reported several obstacles related to this process, for
example difficulties with CUSDEC and an allegedly arbitrary selection
between green and red channels in the customs.


2.5.1. Lack of export-related facilities


Trading agents have also reported a lack of export-related
infrastructure and facilities. For example, the Port Authorities lack
appropriate shelter for clerks. Customs facilities are available but
some of them are not fully operational, leading to queuing and delays
and some loading facilities are not appropriate. Furthermore,
exporters find that rent charges for containers at the port are too high (reported to be US$ 16 per container
per day).



64 Sri Lanka Customs website: http://www.customs.gov.lk/exp_promo.htm (accessed on 24 March 2011). The TIEP Scheme allows
direct exporters and indirect exporters (manufacturers who produce inputs to produce exportable goods) to import inputs without
payment of fiscal levies.
65 WTO (2010).


‘We handle our import/export
through the TIEP scheme. On
paper this is very good, but
implementing it is very cumbersome
and time consuming.’


A large company in Sri Lanka
producing, exporting and importing
goods (ITC survey on NTMs)


‘Customs are sometimes
burdensome when the relevant
officers in charge are not available.’


Sri Lankan tea exporter (ITC survey
on NTMs)


‘Nine clearance lines are idle most of
the time in the Customs.’


‘Sometimes cargo gets damaged
whilst handling that leads to
pilferages.’


Tea exporters (ITC survey on NTMs)


‘[There is] no place for a wharf clerk
to stay in the Port Authority (no
proper shelter). Wharf clerk has to
stay in a queue which is very time
consuming.’


Trading agent exporting tea (ITC
survey on NTMs)




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34 MAR-11-207.E


Table 11: Export of tea: procedural obstacles and inefficient trade-related business
environment


POs and inefficient TBE
Number of reported PO/TBE cases that occurred


…in Sri Lanka (and agencies
involved, if specified) …in partner countries


Sub-
total


Delay in administrative procedures 5+3t
Customs, Port Authorities,
Forest Dept., Tea Board, Dept.
of Commerce, Health Ministry


3+4t
Australiat, Egypt, Kuwait,
New Zealandt, Norwayt,
the Syrian Arab Republic,
United Statest


15


Informal payment, e.g. bribes 5+2t Customs 7


Inconsistent or arbitrary behaviour of
officials 4 Tea Board, Customs 4


Unusually high fees and charges 3+1
t


Australiat, Egypt, Kuwait,
the Syrian Arabic
Republic


4


Information is not adequately
published and disseminated 1 Trade Ministry, Tea Board 1 India 2


Low security level for persons and
goods 1+1


t Customs, Port Authorities 2


Numerous administrative
windows/organizations involved 2


Customs, Tea Board, Dept. of
Agriculture, Ministry of Health 2


Limited/inappropriate facilities 1t Port Authorities 1


Large number of different documents 1 Customs 1


Documentation is difficult to fill out 1 Customs 1


Regulations change frequently 1 Tea Board 1


Deadline set for completion of
requirements are too short 1


t
1


Total 29 12 41


Source: ITC survey on NTMs.


t POs/TBE reported by trading agents are marked by t, all other obstacles were reported by producing companies.


2.5.2. Access to information


Furthermore, some exporters are affected by the lack of
information, for example a Sri Lankan company exporting tea
to India cannot benefit from the preferences under the Indo-
Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA) simply because the
company failed to access the information on the requirements
and procedures. Although the described POs and inefficient
TBE are reported by tea exporters, they are quite general and
not specific to the tea sector, as the following section about
other sectors will show.


2.5.3. Procedural obstacles in the partner countries


Among POs/TBE, only 29% of all reported cases occur in the importing countries. Most of the cases refer
to unusually high fees and charges (experienced in Australia, Egypt, Kuwait and the Syrian Arab Republic)
and delays, reported to occur in the above mentioned countries and in New Zealand, Norway and the
United States (table 11).


‘Sri Lanka has signed a bilateral FTA with
India. Tea is included in this FTA. However
no one at this end or in India knows how the
approvals should be obtained in order to
streamline the process of exporting flavoured
tea to India.’


A Sri Lankan company producing and
exporting tea (ITC survey on NTMs)




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MAR-11-207.E 35


2.6. Concerns of Sri Lankan importers
The survey also covered 11 companies importing tea to Sri Lanka to complement information provided by
the Sri Lankan tea exporters. Furthermore several open-ended discussions with the SLTB, Colombo Tea
Traders Association and other experts (see appendix IV for a
full list) were held to identify the roots of predominant
problems. The NTM survey interviews and open-ended
discussions revealed that the main constraints of tea
importers are quality control measures, import permits and
quotas.


The findings are in line with the process described in the
WTO TPR of Sri Lanka, ‘Imports of tea are subject to quality
controls and inspection by the SLTB. All types of tea imports
require a prior permit from the SLTB, either for blending with
domestic tea, adding value and exporting, or for adding value
and exporting without a local component. Importers may
blend imported tea with locally produced tea only if the latter
has been purchased through approved channels with export
rights.’’66


In terms of POs and TBE, one importing company reports
difficulties with the customs with officials there being
‘lethargic and not concerned’.


As the majority of tea imports is destined for processing and
further export, the excessive procedures and related costs
can reduce the competitiveness of the exporting companies
and their ability to meet the international demand for the
blended tea.


2.7. Summary and policy options
The tea sector is Sri Lanka’s largest agricultural sector and it provides the livelihood to a major share of the
population. Sri Lanka remains the world’s leading tea exporter in value terms, but no longer in quantity
terms, highlighting high quality as well as high unit values.


In brief, the problems experienced in the tea sector depend on the attributes of the company. Small tea
producing companies have difficulties with sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) regulations and other
technical requirements mandated by the authorities in Sri Lanka and importing countries. Large tea
producing companies do not have difficulties with technical requirements but they find it burdensome to
demonstrate that their product is compliant. Finally, trading agents specialized in tea have a good grip on
all the requirements, but are still affected by an inefficient TBE.


Many reported NTMs are export-related, that is, they are applied by Sri Lanka itself. On the one hand, they
may be justified by the need to control the quality of the exported tea and the image of the Ceylon Tea
brand. On the other hand, they undermine the competitiveness of the Sri Lankan exporters through
increased costs, and risk Sri Lanka losing international market share to other aggressive international
competitors.


Smaller companies that struggle with the strict requirements may require better access to information
about technical measures which are applied both domestically and abroad. That trading agents do not
report such difficulties may suggest that the capacities of the enterprises (and not the characteristics of the
exported product) are at the core of the issue. Enhancing the knowledge of companies regarding the
regulations and processes required by Sri Lanka and the major tea importing countries could therefore
improve their export performance. After fulfilling respective requirements, compliance usually needs to be



66WTO (2010).


‘Since the majority of tea imports are
processed in Sri Lanka and then exported,
the government’s restrictions prevent many
Sri Lankan tea producers from importing low-
quality tea, blending it with higher quality
Ceylon Tea, and exporting it under the
Ceylon Tea brand. If a processor desires to
do so, they must obtain a license from the
government to import CTC tea.’


Interview in the Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB)


‘It is quite frequent that importers’
documentation is incomplete or inaccurate.
This may lead the import approval process to
take as long as 2-3 weeks, with additional
time being required to obtain the appropriate
documentation. Also the importers quite often
fail to provide a Maximum Residue Level
certification, or fail to obtain the certificate at
an authorized lab.’


Interview in the SLTB




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36 MAR-11-207.E


certified. The apparent lack or overloaded capacity of testing and certification facilities – also recurring in
other sectors – is another essential issue to address in domestic policies.


The SLTB Export cess, as a per unit export tax, may theoretically encourage domestic processing and
value added towards higher quality. However, it raises the export price of tea and is perceived as
burdensome by several of the companies interviewed. Given that low price ceilings were reported for the
Islamic Republic of Iran, the Syrian Arab Republic and Turkey, and are possibly applied by other importers,
the issue of high export prices is aggravated. In such cases, either the exporter’s profit margin is strongly
reduced or the respective market is not supplied. By the same reasoning, the high domestic quality
standards may hinder market diversification.


Furthermore, technical regulations and licensing on the imports of lower cost tea for domestic processing
also restrict the possibility of product diversification. Allowing freer imports for subsequent domestic
blending and export through strengthened low-cost export channels may improve the industry’s export
performance. In order not to harm the valuable Ceylon Tea brand, such products should remain clearly
distinguishable for consumers. With a widened spectrum of tea varieties of different prices and qualities,
improved access to markets with demand for lower prices is likely to be achieved.


Finally, companies’ export competitiveness could be enhanced by improving the export-related business
environment and procedures at domestic institutions. Above all, delays, informal payments and other
inconsistent or arbitrary behaviour of officials, mostly at Customs, Port Authorities and Tea Board, need to
be tackled. Apart from expanding physical infrastructure, also capacity building and training of officials may
have a significant impact.


3. Other agricultural and agro-based products


3.1. Affected companies
On average, 77% of all agricultural exporters are affected by burdensome non-tariff measures or
procedural obstacles. The results are based on the phone screen interviews with 104 exporting companies
and trading agents (figure 11).


Figure 11: Exporters of agriculture affected by trade barriers, by company size



Source: ITC survey on NTMs.


Interestingly, small companies appear to be less affected than the large ones (70% and 87% respectively).
This can be explained, however, by the presence of trading agents providing trade-related services to
domestic producers. These are generally small companies, and the export and import process is their core
business. As trading agents are likely to be better aware of export processes and regulations, their presence
in the sample drives the average share of affected small companies downwards.67 To further analyse these
differences the survey results are presented separately for exporting companies and trading agents.



67 Precise statistics on the share of trading agents among the affected companies is not available, as the questions on whether a
company trades its own produce or offers trade services (called ‘trading agent’ in this report) is asked during face-to-face interviews
conducted only with the companies that experience trade barriers.


14


6


4


32


22


26


0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35


Small companies


Medium-sized companies


Large companies
Number of companies interviewed
that experience obstacles to trade


Number of companies interviewed
that do not experience obstacles to
trade




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MAR-11-207.E 37


3.2. Non-tariff measures applied by partner countries
Among the measures applied by importing countries to the agricultural and agro-based products (other
than tea) exported from Sri Lanka,68 the majority are technical regulations (sanitary and phytosanitary
measure [SPS] and technical barriers to trade [TBT]) and related conformity assessment (table 12). All
cases reported by trading agents are in these categories. Technical regulations and conformity
assessment are also among the most difficult regulations for companies exporting their own agricultural
produce (67% of cases), followed by difficulties with rules of origin (29%) and charges and taxes (3%).


Figure 12: Burdensome NTMs applied by the main markets for Sri Lankan agricultural and
food products




Source: ITC survey on NTMs and ITC calculations based on Trade Map data.


The majority of cases for agricultural and agro-based products are related to exports to Australia, the
European Union, India, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and the United States, with a
few remaining cases distributed among several countries in Asia, Latin America and the Gulf region
(table 12). However, the results related to large partner countries should be looked at with a degree of
caution as they may be biased upwards. Large partner countries are more likely to be covered in the
survey because the number of companies exporting to large markets is larger than the number of
companies exporting to non-traditional markets (the survey is stratified by sector and company size, but
not by partner country).


When the share of trade is taken into account, Mexico, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and the United
States look like the most difficult partners, each supplying more than 8% of all reported cases (12% of all
reported cases in the United States), but importing less than 5% of total agricultural exports from Sri Lanka
excluding tea (figure 12). Similarly, Australia supplied 3.7% of all cases related to agriculture (excluding
tea), but only imported 1% of agricultural exports from Sri Lanka (excluding tea) in 2009. This may suggest
that these countries apply regulations related to agricultural imports that are stricter than those of other
importers of Sri Lankan agricultural products.



68 NTMs and POs related to tea are discussed in the previous section. As a result, in this section data on agricultural and agro-based
products do not include reports related to tea.


0% 10% 20% 30% 40%


Australia
Iran (Islamic Rep. of)


Canada
Rep. of Korea


Singapore
Saudi Arabia


Maldives
China


Malaysia
Japan


Indonesia
United States


Pakistan
Mexico


United Arab Emirates
India


EU


Share of NTM cases
(n=136)


Share in total agro
trade exluding tea
(US$ 919,702,000)




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38 MAR-11-207.E


Table 12: Agricultural and food product exports (excluding tea): burdensome NTMs applied by partner countries


Affected product
groups69


Export to the world Number of reported NTM cases


Product’s
export value


in 2009
(US$ ’000)


Share of
product group


in the sector’s
export value*


Technical
requirements


Conformity
assessment


Rules of
origin


Charges
and taxes


Sub-
total


Countries reported to apply burdensome
NTMs (number of cases)


Spices, coffee, maté 117,783 12.8% 5+28t 13+28t 8 - 82


EU (8+16t), India (3+8t), United States (2+8t),
Mexico (1+8t), Pakistan (8t), UAE(8t), Australia


(2), Argentina, Canada, China, Colombia,
Honduras, Japan, Myanmar, Peru, Thailand,
Turkey


Coconut 152,045 16.5% 6t 7+111 - 1 25
EU (1+5t), Pakistan (3t), United States (3t),
Mexico (1+2t), UAE (2t), Argentina,
Bangladesht, Canada, China, Colombia,
Honduras, Peru, Saudi Arabiat


Fresh fruits, nuts,
vegetables 61,117 6.6% - 1 - 1 2 India, Japan


Fish 179,732 19.5% - 4+1t - - 5 EU (1+1t), United States (2), Republic of Korea


Cereal flours, uncooked
pasta and food
preparations


126,066 13.7% 7 1 10 - 18 EU (9), Japan (4), Australia (3), Singapore, United States


Other agricultural
products 282,959


30.8% 2 2 - - 4 UAE (2), India, Malaysia


Total 919,702 100% 48 68 18 2 136
Source: ITC survey on NTMs and ITC calculations based on Trade Map data.


* Total export value of agricultural products and food industry (excluding tea) is US$ 919,702,000.
t Measures reported by trading agents are marked by t, all other NTMs were reported by producing companies.


Note: In order to facilitate understanding of the table above, product groupings condense highly disaggregated product-level information. By construction, the share of affected products in the
sector’s total export value therefore adds up to 100%; this does not imply that all trade is actually affected by NTMs.





69 As many NTM cases are specific to products, the agricultural sector has been split into several product groups. ‘Spices, coffee, maté’ consist of the HS chapter 09 (except 0902). ‘Coconut’


includes the following HS codes: 0801, 1513, 230650, 530500. ‘Fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables’ cover HS 07, 08 (except 0801) and 14. ‘Fish’ includes HS03, 1504, 1604, 1603, 2301,
210420. ‘Cereal flours, uncooked pasta and food preparations’ refer to HS10, 11, 19, 20, 21 (except 210420); while all remaining fresh and processed food and agro products are grouped


under ‘Other agricultural products’. In the category ‘Other agricultural products’ the NTMs were reported by exporters of plants and parts of plants, medical plants and palm oil. In the table
above, it is not possible to interpret the share of a product group in the sector’s export value as the share of affected products because NTM cases were reported to affect only certain


products within each product group.




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MAR-11-207.E 39


3.2.1. Certification requirements and related procedures


Certification requirements and related procedures, such as conformity assessment, are by far the biggest
challenge for exporting companies (42 out of 62 cases reported by exporting companies and all 72 cases
reported by trading agents). These difficulties affect all groups of agricultural and agro-based exports
reported by the Sri Lankan companies, especially spices (9 cases reported by producers and 28 cases by
trading agents representing 27% of all cases of this sector).


Problems can be roughly divided into two major categories. First, some of the requirements are specified in
very strict terms, making it very difficult for exporters to ensure
that the export products are compliant. Second, many
requirements are not strict per se, and the exported products
are compliant with these requirements. Still they have a
negative impact on the exporting companies due to costs and
delays associated with demonstrating compliance, for
example obtaining certificates.


The survey results contain references to many cases when
the difficulties are related with demonstrating compliance and
not with technical requirements. For example, to obtain a
certain phytosanitary certificate for plants, exporting
companies have to provide transportation for lab technicians.
Exporters find this expensive and time consuming. One
exporter reported that he has to pay SL Rs 5,000
(approximately US$ 43) per visit of a lab technician; and it
takes 2 days per field visit, and 8 days for the lab test.
Coconut exporters commented on the delays in obtaining the
Physical Quality Certificate and Sulphur Dioxide Certificate from the Coconut Development Authority.


Several importing countries stipulate fumigation requirements for the import of cinnamon. The fumigation
procedure is carried out in Sri Lanka using Methyl Bromide and lasting 24 hours. According to one
company interviewed there is a further delay of 1–2 days and a need to pay high charges to quarantine
officers. Another case is a certificate required by India for strawberries and other fruits. Consignments are
rejected in India if the certificates from Sri Lanka’s National Quarantine Office are not sent to the airport in
time.


3.2.2. Strict technical requirements


Strict technical requirements are reported to be applied by various
countries to imports of Sri Lankan coconut, cinnamon, cloves and
nutmeg (table 12). These problems have been described by one
trading agent and even though they do not represent a trend, they
indicate a problem that may well be experienced by other companies.
Even though the certification schemes are based on international
standards (HACCP, International Organization for Standardization
[ISO]), the company finds the
required physical and
microbiological criteria too strict.


HACCP certification can be obtained
in Sri Lanka; it is provided by the
SLSI. As the certification schemes


are accredited by the Dutch Accreditation Council, the certificates can
be accepted in many importing countries. Yet it is worth noticing that the
minimum certification fees do not depend on the value of exports or
profit, making it even more challenging for small companies to get
certified (box 1).


Fish exporters have to obtain many different certificates and the set of


‘When exporting cut flowers to India they
require us to complete an "Additional
declaration" section in the phytosanitary
certificate saying the flowers are free of
Xanthomonas bacterial disease. In order to
issue this certificate the Agriculture
Department in Sri Lanka wants their lab
technicians stationed in the airport to inspect
all plant nurseries that supply cut flowers to
our company. Therefore our company has to
take them to all nurseries in Nuware Eliya
and bring them back to Colombo. This is
both costly and time consuming.’


A Sri Lankan company exporting plants (ITC
survey on NTMs)


‘HACCP certification is particularly
difficult for Sri Lankan seafood
processing plants to implement
because of the high standards and
cost associated with compliance.’


‘Technical measures on processed
food have increased since the
2008 melamine scandal in China.’


Interview in the Sri Lanka Export
Development Board (EDB)


‘We export all grocery items to
European countries. European
countries insist on ISO 9002
certification on Maldive fish and
any item containing Maldive fish.
This is impossible for Sri Lankan
exporters to achieve. Because of
this sometimes our buyers entirely
bypass our company.’


A Sri Lankan exporting company
(ITC survey on NTMs)




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


40 MAR-11-207.E


documents varies from one importing country to another. There are three different types of problems
associated with this process. First, the requirements are so strict that companies cannot comply with them.
Second, when companies can comply with the requirements, it remains difficult to prepare a complete and
correct set of documents, as requirements vary by country, they change often and information on the
requirements is difficult to obtain (especially for India). Finally, it can be very time-consuming to deal with
the authorities responsible for the certificates issued in Sri Lanka. One NTM survey respondent reported
that it takes 2 to 3 months to obtain a traceability certificate from the Fishery Department of Sri Lanka.




Box 1: Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) certificate from
Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI)


The HACCP certificate from the SLSI implies that chemical, physical and biological hazards encountered
during the production or processing of a food item, as applicable to the scope of certification, are controlled
to make the food safe for human consumption. A certificate holder develops and maintains its food safety
assurance programme based on the internationally accepted principles of ISO 22000 and SLS 1266. Both
schemes are accredited by the Dutch Accreditation Council. Thus the certificates issued under this scheme
are recognized all over the world.


Services Fee (SL Rs)*
Brochure 1,000
Application processing 12,500
Stage I Audit fee
(The number of days and the number of auditors attending to the
audit will be based on the size of the organization)


6,000 per day / assessor


Annual registration 50,000
Stage II Audit fee 6,000 per day / assessor
SLS 1266:2005 (HACCP) 60,000
ISO 22000:2005 (Food Safety Management System) 60,000
Re-assessment 6,000 per day / assessor
Bi-annual surveillance Free of charge

Type of Certificate Annual fee (SL Rs)
Certificates with accreditation mark 80,000
Certificates without accreditation mark 60,000

*Transport and accommodation for Auditors shall be provided by the client. 15% VAT will be added to all
payments. If the number of products manufactured at a facility exceeds ten, an additional SL Rs 10,000 will
be charged.

Procedures
Pre-certification


Submit the duly filled application  Document adequacy audit  SLSI Report / improvement 
Final audit  SLSI Report / improvement  HACCP certification awarded  Surveillance


Post-certification procedure
Annual registration



For reference: US$ 1.00 = SL Rs 113 (simple average rate for 2010)


Source: Sri Lanka Standards Institution, online information accessed at http://www.slsi.lk/systems-certification-haccp.php.




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 41


3.2.3. The role of buyers (private sector in the importing country)


Companies exporting agricultural products find that buyers have
asymmetrically more power than sellers. This is different from the
survey results in the tea sub-sector, where this aspect has not
been mentioned at all. It is possible that tea exporters are not
affected by the buyers because 95% of all tea produced in Sri
Lanka is sold through the Colombo auction.70


For example, European Union buyers need to obtain a special
import authorization for organic products. This is costly and time
consuming, and thus may motivate buyers to import from a
European Union country or ‘equivalent’ countries (9 other
countries with organic regimes are recognized as being on a par
with European Union organic regimes).71 As Sri Lanka is not
classified by the European Union as an ‘equivalent’ country in


terms of organic regimes, Sri Lankan exporters of organic processed food depend on very few authorized
buyers and cannot diversify across them. The alternative solution for Sri Lankan exporters of organic
goods is to get certified by a control body recognized by the European Commission. Yet, as discussed
above, the cost of certifications is rather high, especially for small-scale producers.


Another case of the power of buyers was explained by an exporter of cinnamon to Mexico. Initially the
transactions were done on letter of credit terms. Since the late 1990s, this was changed by the buyer to
deferred payment against acceptance terms for 90 days credit. As a
result, the Sri Lankan exporting company is losing bank interest
rates, and faces a higher risk of non-payment.


In some cases buyers go beyond demanding favourable conditions,
and resort to renouncing their contract obligations or requesting
illegal behaviour such as misclassification of products to avoid high
customs duties. A Sri Lankan company has reported, for example,
that some buyers import natural rubber as block rubber to pay lower
customs duty. As one company interviewed refused to make a false
declaration, the buyer imported through another company, a
shipping agent that was willing to infringe the classification rules.


These cases can be resolved at the bilateral level with the
involvement of government officials. The companies interviewed
feel that the government should do more to protect the interests of
Sri Lankan exporters.


3.2.4. Rules of Origin


Difficulties with the rules and certificates of origin represent 16% of all problems reported by companies
exporting their own agricultural produce (table 12). One report specifies difficulties with rules of origin for
export to India, the rest with GSP schemes granted by developed countries (Australia, Japan, the
European Union and the United States). Remarkably, trading agents do not report any difficulties with the
certificates of origin.


3.3. Non-tariff measures applied by Sri Lanka and related procedural obstacles
According to agricultural exporters, export inspection processes are very time consuming, which especially
affects perishable products (see table 13). It involves several steps, some of which seem redundant.



70 See http://www.pureceylontea.com/auctions.htm (accessed on 24 March 2011).
71 For further information on European Union organic regimes, see for example a United Kingdom official government website for
businesses http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/layer?lang=en&r.l1=1079717544&r.l2=1079840669&r.s=tl&topicId=1079819159.


‘Each buyer has to obtain an import
authorization certificate. This is a
restriction on us, because we cannot
export to new buyers who will pay a
good price for small consignments. We
are forced to deal with a few buyers who
will tend to dictate terms and control the
import business.’


A Sri Lankan company exporting organic
products to Australia, Japan, the EU and
the United States (ITC survey on NTMs)


‘Some buyers in Pakistan confirm that
they will open a letter of credit
immediately. Based on this
confirmation we reserve goods.
However they simply go back on their
word and do not issue the letter of
credit. Thus we have to seek other
buyers to sell the goods we have
already reserved for them. We have
no way of taking any legal action as
there is no advance binding ruling
procedure until the L/C is opened.’


A Sri Lankan exporting company (ITC
survey on NTMs)




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


42 MAR-11-207.E


Furthermore, when the physical checks are
undertaken in the open air by untrained
officers, the goods are likely to get damaged.


For example, a company exporting coconuts
explained the process in detail. First, a high
number of documents is required. The
documents need to be sent online and then
hard copies should be brought in person as
the EDI is not fully implemented. X-ray
machines are available but hardly used for
cargo examination. Instead, physical
examination is undertaken, which is time
consuming and expensive (according to one
report, the checking of one container takes a
minimum of 15 to 30 minutes). Payments are
currently done manually, rather than with
electronic systems.


Table 13: Agricultural and food product exports (excluding tea): burdensome NTMs
applied by Sri Lankan authorities


Source: ITC survey on NTMs and ITC calculations based on Trade Map data.


* Total export value of agricultural products and food industry (excluding tea) is US$ 919,702,000.
t Measures reported by trading agents are marked by t, all other NTMs were reported by producing companies.
Note: In order to facilitate understanding of the table above, product groupings condense highly disaggregated product-level
information. By construction, the share of affected products in the sector’s total export value therefore adds up to high percentages.
This does not imply that all trade is actually affected by NTMs.


3.4. Procedural obstacles and inefficient trade-
related business environment
Large differences exist between the experiences of trading agents
and producing companies exporting their own products. For trading
agents, unusually high fees and charges are the largest obstacle
(36% of all PO/TBE cases), and the majority of problems occur in
partner countries (table 14). Only a few cases that occur in Sri Lanka
involve only Customs and the Port Authority.


Companies that produce and export their own goods deal with many
agencies along the production and distribution chain. Companies
exporting agricultural products report that they have encountered


cumbersome procedures at Customs and Port Authorities, but also in several ministries, EDB, the Inland
Revenue Department, the National Plant Quarantine Service, the Coconut Development Authority, the
Department of Forest Conservation, Airport Authorities, and Ceylon Pest Control (table 14).


Affected
products


Export to the world Number of reported NTM cases


Product’s
export value


in 2009
(US$ ’000)


Share of
product in the


sector’s
export value*


Export
inspection


Certification
required by


the exporting
country


Export
taxes and
charges


Sub-
total


Coconut 152,045 16.5% 1+1t 1t 1t 4
Fresh fruits, nuts,
vegetables 61,117 6.6% - 1 - 1


Other agricultural
products 282,959 30.8% 1 - - 1


Total 496,121 53.9% 3 2 1 6


‘Cut flowers, foliage, plants are all perishable cargo. They are
carefully packed using cotton wool and other packing material.
This carefully packed perishable cargo is subject to inspection
at three points:  
(a) The 18th post-air force inspection is carried out on the road
side and all cargo is opened. Rain water, dust and insects get
in (due to powerful lights); handling is also rough.  
(b) Boxes opened at quarantine are not a big problem because
officers are knowledgeable and the room is sealed and air-
conditioned. There is minimum damage, but it is inconvenient.  
(c) Once again cargo is opened at customs. This is an open
area, hence insects can get in.’


A Sri Lankan company exporting agro products (ITC survey on
NTMs)


‘[It is] very difficult to obtain duty
rebates on packing items. The
company has to waste a lot of time
at the Finance Ministry and other
institutions for approval. Therefore,
we do not pursue these rebates.’


A Sri Lankan company exporting
vegetables (ITC survey on NTMs)




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 43


Table 14: Agricultural and food product exports (excluding tea): procedural obstacles
and inefficient trade-related business environment


POs and inefficient TBE
Number of reported PO/TBE cases that occurred


…in Sri Lanka (and agencies involved, if
specified) …in partner countries


Sub-
total


Unusually high fees and
charges 5+1


t
Customs, Dept. of Commerce, Ceylon
Pest Control, National Plant
Quarantine Service


23t
EU (6t), Mexico (4t),
Pakistan (4t), UAE (4t),
United States (3t), India (2t)


29


Delay in administrative
procedures 10+3


t


Airport authorities, Coconut Dev.
Authority, Customs, Dept. of
Agriculture, Export Dev. Board, Inland
Revenue Dept., Ministry of Agriculture,
Ministry of Finance, National Plant
Quarantine Service, Port Authorities


9 EU (5), United States (2), Australia, Japan 22


Informal payment, e.g.
bribes 13+2


t Customs, Inland Revenue Dept. 1t Indiat 16


Limited/inappropriate
facilities 11+2


t
Airport authorities, Customs, Dept.
of Agriculture/Quarantine Dept.,
Ports Authorities


13


Inconsistent classification of
products 10+1


t Customs, Coconut Dev. Authority 11


No advance binding ruling
procedure 2


Dept. of Agriculture, Ministry of Trade,
Export Dev. Board 2


t Mexicot, Pakistant 4


Large number of different
documents 1 Customs 3 EU, China, Japan 4


Large number of checks 3
Airport Authorities, Customs, National
Plant Quarantine Service, Dept. of
Forest Conservation


3


Lack of recognition e.g. of
national certificates 2 UAE, Republic of Korea 2


No due notice for changes in
procedure 1 1 India 2


Regulations change
frequently 2 EU 2


Technological constraints,
e.g. ICT (information and
communications
technologies)


2 Customs 2


Information is not adequately
published and disseminated 1+1


t Customs, Ministry of Fishery 2


Inaccessible/limited
transportation system 1+1


t 2


Need to hire a local customs
agent to get shipment
unblocked


1
t Germanyt 1


Low security level for
persons and goods 1


t Mexicot 1


Other obstacles 6+28
t


EU (2+9t), UAE (1+4t), Mexico
(4t), Pakistan (4t), United
States (4t), India (3t),
Australia, Japan, Malaysia


34


Total 71 79 150
Source: ITC survey on NTMs.
t POs/TBE reported by trading agents are marked by t, all other obstacles were reported by producing companies.




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


44 MAR-11-207.E


Airports and the airport authority were mentioned by every sixth company, lamenting delays, checks and
inappropriate facilities. The number of complaints about Sri Lankan airports is larger in the agricultural
sector than in other sectors. This is intuitive as only high value-added perishable products, such as
horticulture, are exported by air. Exporters have to deal with a large number of organizations, and they
expressed a need for the simplification, harmonization and streamlining of various procedures.


Sri Lankan companies reported that they experience POs and an
inefficient trade-related business environment both in partner
countries (53% of all PO/TBE cases) and in Sri Lanka (47%).
Processes and the business environment in India and Pakistan,
each having trade agreements with Sri Lanka, represent
problems for Sri Lankan exporters. Japan, the European Union,
and the United States are most cited as partner countries where
obstacles take place. Yet there may be a bias toward over-
estimating problems in the large partner countries due to the
sampling method. Other countries mentioned in relation to
POs/TBE by companies in the agricultural sector include China,
Malaysia, Mexico, Republic of Korea, and the United Arab
Emirates.


In general, most of the reported POs and inefficient TBE cases are not specific to the agricultural sector. A
large number of obstacles are reported but not in detail and without a specific agency (23% of all PO/TBE
cases), suggesting a general frustration with overall inefficiency. Those cases that are specific to the
agricultural sector include inconsistent classification of products and a large number of checks affecting
perishable products.


Figure 13: Export and import value of main agricultural and agro-based products in 2009,
by product group at the HS 2-digit level



Source: ITC survey on NTMs and ITC calculations based on Trade Map data.


0 200 400 600 800 1,000 1,200 1,400


Live animals
Meat and edible meat offal


Sugars and sugar confectionery
Dairy products, eggs, honey, edible animal product …


Lac, gums, resins, vegetable saps and extracts n.e.s.
Beverages, spirits and vinegar


Products of animal origin, n.e.s.
Cereals


Meat, fish and seafood food preparations n.e.s.
Cocoa and cocoa preparations


Oil seed, oleagic fruits, grain, seed, fruit, etc., n.e.s.
Cereal, flour, starch, milk preparations and products


Live trees, plants, bulbs, roots, cut flowers, etc.
Animal, vegetable fats and oils, cleavage products, etc.
Vegetable plaiting materials, vegetable products n.e.s.


Edible vegetables and certain roots and tubers
Miscellaneous edible preparations


Vegetable, fruit, nut, etc., food preparations
Milling products, malt, starches, inulin, wheat gluten


Tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes
Residues, wastes of food industry, animal fodder


Edible fruit, nuts, peel of citrus fruit, melons
Fish, crustaceans, molluscs n.e.s.


Coffee, tea, maté and spices


Imported value, US$ million Exported value, US$ million


‘General handling facilities at
Katunayake airport are not up to
international standards. Priority, special
care, cold room facilities are insufficient
at our airport for perishable cargo like
cut flowers and foliage. The
infrastructure at our airport cargo village
needs improvements.’


A Sri Lankan company producing and
exporting agricultural products (ITC
survey on NTMs)




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 45


3.5. Non-tariff measures and other obstacles affecting imports
During the phone screen phase of the NTM Survey in Sri Lanka,
27 companies importing agricultural products reported that they
experience trade barriers. Detailed face-to-face interviews have
been conducted with these companies, shedding light on the
value chain process within the agricultural sector (import of
inputs, or import for value addition and further export) and on the
imports for final consumption. Imports for domestic consumption
are critical for the country, as it remains a net importer of many
essential food products, especially vegetables, cereals, dairy
products and sugar (figure 13). Trade barriers impacting goods
imported for value addition impact not only importers but also
exporters of the final product, making them less competitive.


Most of the problems experienced by Sri Lankan companies
importing agricultural and agro-food products are at the level of
POs and TBE (44 cases, table 16), with only 7 NTM cases
referring to government regulations (table 15). All NTMs and
other obstacles, except one PO case, are associated with
business practices or regulations in Sri Lanka, with the costs
being borne by consumers, as Sri Lanka is a net food importer.


All burdensome NTMs experienced by Sri Lankan importers of
agricultural products are legislation applied by Sri Lanka to
regulate imports (table 15). An example of this is certification reported to be required for the imports of jam
from India. When these regulations are imposed on the agricultural imports for final consumption, they may
increase consumer prices.


Table 15: Agricultural and food product imports (excluding tea): burdensome NTMs
applied by Sri Lankan authorities
Product Import from the world Number of reported NTM cases


HS
product
code (as
reported)


Product code description
(abridged)


Product’s
import


value in
2009


(US$ ’000)


Share of
product in


the
sector’s
import
value


Conformity
assess-


ment


Charges
and


taxes


Quantity
control


measures


Finance
Measures


Sub-
total


070110 Seed potatoes 928 0.06% - - - 1 1


121190


Plants, parts of plants,
used primarily in
perfumery, medicaments or
for insecticidal, fungicidal or
similar purposes


3,121 0.21% - - 1 - 1


190110 Preparations for infant use 7,381 0.49% - 1 - - 1


1902XX Pasta n.a.** n.a.** - 1 - - 1


2007XX Jams n.a.** n.a.** 1 - - - 1


230400
Oilcake and other solid
residues (resulting from the
extraction of soya-bean oil)


48,944 3.24% 1 - - - 1


330290


Mixtures of odoriferous
substances, incl. alcoholic
solutions (of a kind used as
raw materials in industry)


7,088 0.47% - 1 - - 1


Total* 67,462 4.5% 2 3 1 1 7
Source: ITC survey on NTMs and ITC calculations based on Trade Map data.


* Total import value of agricultural and food industry products (excluding tea) is US$ 1,512,635,000.
** Trade data (value and share) is reported only for products on HS 6-digit level for consistency reasons.


‘Our company imports dried fruits to mix
with special tea and re-export. We have
no problem in exporting our tea mixed
with imported fruit pieces, because the
fruits are processed to internationally
accepted quality standards. There is no
manufacturer in Sri Lanka producing
such fruit pieces and thus we have to
depend on imports. Because many fruits
are grown in Sri Lanka, customs insists
on the total ban of importing home
grown varieties to Sri Lanka. They do
not give any consideration to the
following: 1. We only import to process
and re-export and don’t sell locally. 2.
There is no locally manufactured
identical or similar product that is
available for our use.’


A Sri Lankan company importing and
exporting agricultural products (ITC
survey on NTMs)




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


46 MAR-11-207.E


Furthermore, burdensome quality control measures were reported to be applied to the plants used in
perfumery and medicaments; charges and taxes are imposed on the mixtures of odoriferous substances


used as raw materials in the industry; and a difficult finance
measure is applied to the imports of seed potatoes (table 15).
When imports are used as inputs for processed agro-based
products or as feed and seeds for agricultural production, the
burdensome NTMs on imports also affect the competitiveness
of the final product. Several companies feel that the imports are
purposely restricted to protect domestic industries.


Similar to the exporters, importers indicated delays,
inconsistent classification of products and informal payments as
their top three problems. Obstacles experienced by companies
importing agricultural goods occurred in Sri Lanka for all but
one case (tables 15 and 16).


Companies importing agricultural goods are very concerned
with a lack of transparency and difficult access to information
(table 16). Customs, the Port Authorities and Sri Lankan


Airlines are those most mentioned as failing to provide information. Other complaints of importers are
much in line with those of exporters. The business sector reports a strong need for fair and efficient
customs and other national agencies involved in the import-export process.


Table 16: Agricultural and food product imports (excluding tea): procedural obstacles
and inefficient trade-related business environment


POs and inefficient TBE
Number of reported PO/TBE cases that occurred


…in Sri Lanka
(and agencies involved, if specified)


…in partner
countries Sub-total


Delay in administrative procedures 9 Customs, SLSI 9


Inconsistent classification of products 7 Customs, Port Authorities 7


Informal payment, e.g. bribes 6 Customs 6


No due notice for changes in
procedure 5 Airlines 5


Unusually high fees and charges 4 1 Malaysia 5


Limited/inappropriate facilities 3 Port Authorities, Ceylon Association of Ships' Agents 3


Large number of different documents 2 Customs 2


Low security level for persons and
goods 2 Port Authorities 2


Documentation is difficult to fill out 1 Customs 1


Large number of checks 1 Public Health Inspectors, SLSI 1


Information is not adequately
published and disseminated 1 Customs 1


Other obstacles 2 2


Total 43 1 44


Source: ITC survey on NTMs.


‘Change of classification is done without
any notice to the companies. Due to this
we have to pay heavy duties.’  
‘No proper source of information is
available at Customs.’  
‘Sri Lankan Airlines does not give us
information on charges, etc. in time.’  
‘VAT (value added tax) refunds, prices are
fluctuating.’


Sri Lankan companies importing
agricultural products (ITC survey on NTMs)




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 47


3.6. Summary and policy options
Many burdensome NTMs experienced in the agricultural sector are particular to the sector; with 85% of all
cases related to product-specific technical regulations and related conformity assessment. Many problems
are related to the requirements by the various importing countries, but in the majority of cases obstacles
and inefficiencies actually occur in Sri Lanka. This also means that a good share of problems can be
solved domestically.


Usually technical conformity assessment is demanded by the partner country, but testing and certification
can be provided in Sri Lanka. Insufficient capacities of domestic institutions are therefore a primary PO to
be addressed. Important certificates such as the HACCP, which is provided by SLSI, the domestic
standards focal point, are expensive for small companies. Projects by the United Nations Industrial
Development Organization (UNIDO) have already focused on technical facilities and achieved important
results, such as international accreditation, training and improved equipment.72 Additional investments into
further improving infrastructure may still be necessary as these facilities remain a bottleneck. Other
conformity assessments, for example a traceability certificate from the Fisheries Department, take a very
long time to obtain. Many other specialized authorities were also mentioned as causing additional costs
and delays in certification, licensing, quarantine or export inspection, including: Coconut Development
Authority, Department of Agriculture, National Plant Quarantine Service, Ministry of Fisheries, Ceylon Pest
Control and Department of Forest Conservation.


Given that exporters feel that certain inspections and controls at the border are redundant, the companies
interviewed also suggested another practical solution: streamlining the processes by introducing a single
window of procedures or at least locating all relevant agencies in one building. At Customs and Ports, an
insufficient implementation of electronic customs systems, such as EDI and DTI, was lamented. One
company remarked that the automation will not only expedite the whole process, but also will help to avoid
corruption and malpractice. Also, manual inspections at Customs and Ports, rather than using existent X-
ray machines, reportedly caused delays, costs of demurrage73 and products being damaged. Apart from
expanding the technical infrastructure itself, training of officials in this respect also may be a reasonable
first step forward.


Other problems may still require bilateral solutions involving officials from partner countries. For example,
better cooperation with India is required to ensure that the provisions of the Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade
Agreement (ISFTA) are well enforced, and that Sri Lankan (and Indian) companies have access to
information on the preferences and related requirements. There is also a need for bilateral cooperation
agreements with provisions ensuring the legal enforcement of cross-border contracts.


Private standards are yet another layer of difficulties for companies, especially those exporting agricultural
products to developed countries. Private standards (for example, the label ‘organic’) are requirements
specified by the buyers, e.g. a large supermarket chain. They may or may not imply a price premium. In
principle private standards are not compulsory (they are not requested by the governments of importing
countries). In practice however, distribution chains can be in control of a few buyers with large bargaining
power, and private standards become de facto compulsory requirements. Still, if Sri Lanka is to invest in
certification and related facilities the first priority should be to cover the compulsory government-mandated
regulations required by the major importing countries.


4. Clothing and textiles


4.1. The importance of the sector and its value chain
The combined clothing and textiles sector is Sri Lanka’s largest industry, accounting for 18.7% of
manufacturing output. The sector employs 270,000 people and thus provides livelihoods for about 1.2



72 United Nations Industrial Development Organization (2010).
73 Demurrage is a charge payable to the owner of a chartered ship on failure to load or discharge the ship within the time agreed,
Oxford Dictionaries, accessed at http://oxforddictionaries.com/.




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


48 MAR-11-207.E


million, and it is Sri Lanka’s major foreign exchange earner.74 Despite being close together in the
production value chain, Sri Lanka’s clothing and textile sectors are very different: while apparel is produced
domestically and exported, textiles, as the most important input, are largely imported. Clothing exports
accounted for a staggering 50% of total exports in 2009, whereas only a negligible 1.4% of total imports are
attributed to the industry. Textiles, on the other hand, represent 19.8% of total imports, but only 2.1% of
exports.75 Other mostly imported inputs are plastic fibres and colouring substances, which are treated as
part of chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products in the next section. According to this input-output
structure, the value added of the domestic clothing industry is US$ 1,073 million, or 15.5% of total
industrial value added (see also figure 14).76


Figure 14: Development of textile imports, clothing value added and exports, 2002-2009



Source: ITC calculations based on data from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and Trade Map.


After economic liberalization in 1977, the clothing industry evolved at remarkable speed, also benefitting
from a favourable constellation of the quota-based trade regime under the Multi Fibre Arrangement (MFA).
The quotas guaranteed a good share in the world’s largest markets, Europe and the United States, and Sri
Lanka’s investment-friendly policies triggered the quick establishment of foreign and domestic
entrepreneurs.77 The gradual phasing-out of the MFA towards the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing and
full elimination of the quota-system by the end of 2004 presented a major challenge in exposing the sector
to strong international competition. Due to Sri Lanka’s still relatively low-cost but skilled labour force, and
an early and wisely foreseen strategy of focusing on niche sub-sectors, higher quality and production
standards, the clothing sector has managed to maintain a significant share in world markets.78


Growth, however, has slowed in recent years and the sector’s contribution to total GDP declined from 4.1%
in 2004 to 3.2% in 2009.79 Major structural factors in this are the high cost of production and inputs,
disadvantages over large competitors due to the worldwide system of preferential trade agreements, and
export market concentration on the European Union and the United States.



74 WTO (2010).
75 ITC calculations based on Trade Map data, 2010. Total exports excluding minerals and arms.
76 Website of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, information on value added in industry at current market prices:
http://www.cbsl.gov.lk/htm/english/08_stat/s_2.html; exchange rates provided by http://www.oanda.com/.
77 Kelegama (2005).
78 Economist Intelligence Unit (2008).
79 WTO (2010).


0


500


1,000


1,500


2,000


2,500


3,000


3,500


4,000


2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009


Va
lu


e
in


U
S$


m
ill


io
n


(c
ur


re
nt


p
ric


es
)


Export of clothing Import of textile Value added of clothing




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 49


With respect to the first point, there has been substantial investment into the local production of fabrics;80 in
addition, tariffs and charges on inputs have mostly been reduced to zero, either directly or by means of
refunding schemes; and regional integration with supplying countries (SAFTA, APTA, ISFTA and PSFTA)
is advancing. Figure 14 highlights that textile imports did grow, only at a slower pace than clothing exports,
leaving most of the increase in exported output to improvements in domestic value added.


Secondly, Sri Lanka has been facing stiff competition from fast-growing competitors such as China and
Bangladesh, but also experienced less favourable terms of preferences as compared to established
competitors. Despite preferential market access to the United States under the GSP, much more
favourable preferences granted to Mexico under North American Free Trade Agreement make it difficult for
Sri Lanka to compete. While Sri Lanka has enjoyed low tariffs in the 27 countries of the European Union
due to the GSP+ scheme, the recent temporary removal in 2010 has caused major concern, especially
given that competitors like Bangladesh were generally granted lower tariffs due to their status as Least
Developed Country (LDC). However, even before the suspension only 67.1% of hypothetically eligible
clothing exports to the European Union actually benefitted from GSP+ tariffs.81 This fact is probably caused
by European Union rules of origin on local product content, which directly relates back to the
aforementioned problem of imported textile inputs.


Thirdly, with 92.8% of total clothing exports going to the European Union and the United States, the extent
of export market concentration is very high. The negative effects of this demand dependence are clearly
reflected in the 5% decline in total clothing exports between 2008 and 2009. With 51.9% of exports
directed to the European Union, the significance of the aforementioned removal of the GSP+ becomes
even more evident.


4.2. Companies affected by trade barriers
In preliminary phone screen interviews with a total of 60 companies from the clothing and textile sector,
70% indicated that they were experiencing burdensome obstacles on their export or import operations.
Reflecting the population of firms in the sector and taking into account the input-output chain between
textiles and clothing, the ITC survey conducted face-to-face interviews with 28 firms that have both import
and export transactions in the sector. Additional interviews comprised seven firms that only either import or
export. Out of the firms being questioned in the in-depth interviews, 57% of firms have their own production
activity while the remaining firms are trading agents.


Given Sri Lanka’s strong export orientation in clothing products, it does not come as a surprise that NTMs
reported on clothing concerned exports in 95% of the cases. Only 11% of these NTMs were encountered
as domestic export-related measures. The industry’s reliance on imported textile inputs seems to be
reflected in government efforts to facilitate such imports, which positively mirror in a very low share of
NTMs on textile imports (10% of all NTMs in textiles). Conversely, 90% of NTMs in the textiles sector were
reported for exports, notably despite the relatively low amount of textile exports over textile imports.


Two thirds of the firms that reported burdensome NTM regulations on clothing exports were classified as
large companies with more than 1,000 employees. These large firms, which tend to export a diversified
basket of products to many markets, consequently report a high number  52  of NTM cases. With only
two trading agents reporting three NTM cases, NTMs on exports were mainly reported by producing firms.
Predominant concerns were voiced about partner country regulations related to rules of origin for the GSP
or GSP+ schemes, high labour standards requirements and unfavourable terms of payment. At home,
firms felt export inspections and port charges to be negatively affecting their business operations. The
number of firms experiencing POs was notably more than twice as high as the number of reporters of
government-imposed NTMs. As seen also in other sectors, PO/TBE cases concern domestic problems to a
very high extent – for clothing exports, 95% in the obstacles are domestic. While only a single company
claimed to face an actual NTM on clothing imports in Sri Lanka, the number of POs and reports about an
inefficient TBE related to imports is quite significant and faced domestically in 94% of cases.



80 Economist Intelligence Unit (2008).
81 International Trade Centre (ITC) calculations; reference year is 2008.




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


50 MAR-11-207.E


With respect to textile exports, Sri Lankan companies report that NTMs are applied by partner countries.
Mostly medium-sized and large producing companies reported NTMs. The only exception to both
aforementioned trends is one small trading agent complaining about a domestic conformity assessment on
textile exports. Technical requirements, related conformity assessment, finance measures and other
obstacles in the European Union and the United States are major issues affecting textile exports. On the
crucially important import side, only one large company reported additional charges as a domestically
applied NTM, whereas the number of reports about domestic POs and inefficient TBE gives reason for
concern.


4.3. Non-tariff measures applied by partner countries to clothing exports


4.3.1. Problems related to General System of Preferences scheme and labour
standards


After the phasing-out of the quota-based MFA, preferential tariffs have become crucially important for the
export of clothing. Trade to Sri Lanka’s major importing partners, the European Union and the United
States, which jointly account for almost 93% of Sri Lanka’s clothing
exports, is strongly reliant on the respective General System of
Preferences (GSP and/or GSP+) schemes. Due to alleged human rights
violations,82 the European Union’s and Turkey’s GSP+ for Sri Lanka
was suspended as of 15 February 2010, with the suspension coming
into effect on 15 August 2010; negotiations to revitalize the programme
are ongoing. Apart from the actual suspension of the GSP+, over 60%
(all technical regulations and rules of origin in table 17) of the reported
partners’ import NTM restrictions are directly or indirectly attached to the
preference schemes.


There are problems of incomplete preference utilization related to
certificates of origin. Most strikingly, half of the firms reporting NTMs by
partner countries mentioned difficulties and delays in obtaining
certificates of origin for the participation in GSP or GSP+. Indeed, ITC
has calculated a remarkably low utilization rate  67.1%  for European
Union GSP+ preferences in 2009, i.e. even before its suspension. The
most likely explanation, also reflected in the firms’ difficulties of obtaining
the appropriated certificates of origin, is an insufficient share of local
product content. As mentioned earlier, the use of imported textiles is
very high and some of Sri Lanka’s exported clothing products may not
fulfil the rather strict requirement on local factor content under the GSP+
scheme. In contrast, the calculated preference utilization for exports to
the United States under the GSP, which has less strict rules of origin, is
91.1%.


The Chamber of Apparel Exporters also hinted at a lack of awareness
about the benefits of preference schemes. However, the Ceylon
Chamber of Commerce noted that comprehension of respective
regulations for Sri Lanka’s familiar markets, such as the United States
and the European Union, was not a problem. This was understood to be
partially a result of longstanding trading partnerships as well as the
United States and European market awareness campaigns.
Furthermore, respondents in the ITC survey generally seemed to be
highly aware and concerned about the preferential agreements.



82 European Commission (2009).


‘Sri Lanka’s textile and garment
industry has some of the highest
labour standards in the region;
whether it was the requirement
on minimum wage, restriction on
maximum working hours, or
prohibition on the use of child
labour, the country strives to be
the industry leader on improving
the negative images associated
with textile factories.’  
‘Sixty per cent of our exports are
to the European Union, with the
imbalance largely a result of the
GSP+. Given the instability of
GSP+ benefits, the firm desires
to diversify its export market,
particularly with a desire to
penetrate the US market.’  
Open-end interview with a
representative of a large Sri
Lankan apparel manufacturer


‘There is a delay to get the GSP
and Certificate of Origin.’  
‘[There are] long procedures to
pass GSP.’  
Sri Lankan clothing exporters
(ITC survey on NTMs)




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 51


Table 17: Export of clothing: burdensome NTMs applied by partner countries
Reported export product Export to the world Number of reported NTM cases


HS product
code (as


reported)
Product code description (abridged)


Product’s
export value


in 2009
(US$ ’000)


Share of
product in


the sector’s
export value*


Technical
require-


ments
Finance


Measures
Rules of


Origin
Charges


and taxes
Sub-


total


Countries reported
to apply burdensome


NTMs (number of
cases)


610433
Women’s or girls’ jackets and blazers of


synthetic fibres, knitted or crocheted (excl.
wind-jackets and similar articles)


17,023 0.52% - - 2 - 2 EU, United States


610442 Women’s or girls’ dresses of cotton, knitted or crocheted (excl. petticoats) 16,215 0.50% - - 1 - 1 United States


610510
Men’s or boys’ shirts of cotton, knitted or
crocheted (excl. nightshirts, T-shirts, singlets
and other vests)


57,856 1.77% - - 2 - 2 EU, United States


610910 T-shirts, singlets and other vests of cotton, knitted or crocheted 255,094 7.80% 4 3 2 - 9
EU (4), United States
(2), Japan (1),
Switzerland, Turkey


610990 T-shirts, singlets and other vests of textile materials, knitted or crocheted (excl. cotton) 83,658 2.56% - - 2 - 2 EU, United States


611020
Jerseys, pullovers, cardigans, waistcoats and
similar articles, of cotton, knitted or crocheted
(excl. wadded waistcoats)


81,860 2.50% 4 3 1 - 8
EU (4), Japan,
Switzerland, Turkey,
United States


611120 Babies’ garments and clothing accessories of cotton, knitted or crocheted (excl. hats) 59,007 1.80% - - 1 - 1 EU


620452
Women’s or girls’ skirts and divided skirts of
cotton (excl. knitted or crocheted and
petticoats)


26,652 0.81% 4 3 - - 7
EU (3), Japan,
Switzerland, Turkey,
United States


620462
Women’s or girls’ trousers, bib and brace
overalls, breeches and shorts of cotton (excl.


knitted or crocheted, panties and swimwear)
178,366 5.45% 8 6 - - 14


EU (6), Japan (2),
Switzerland (2),
Turkey (2), United
States (2)


620469


Women’s or girls’ trousers, bib and brace
overalls, breeches and shorts of textile
materials (excl. of wool, fine animal hair,
cotton or synthetic fibres, knitted or crocheted,
panties and swimwear)


168,381 5.15% 4 3 - - 7
EU (3), Japan,
Switzerland, Turkey,
United States


61XXXX Articles of apparel and clothing accessories, knitted or crocheted n.a.** n.a.** - - - 2
t 2t EUt, United Statest


Total 944,112 28.9% 24 18 11 2 55


Source: ITC survey on NTMs and ITC calculations based on Trade Map data.
* Total export value of the clothing sector is US$ 3,270,308,000.
** Trade data (value and share) is reported only for products on HS 6-digit level for consistency reasons.
t Measures reported by trading agents are marked by t, all other NTMs were reported by producing companies.


In grey: All technical regulations and finance measures have been reported by a single large company.




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


52 MAR-11-207.E


4.3.2. Labour standards, terms of payment and additional charges


One very large exporter lamented many cases (see column ‘technical regulations’ in table 18) of labour
standards and other production requirements, which the reporter felt to be applied by the partner countries
in the United States and the European Union. Other stakeholders that participated in additional open-end
interviews were also concerned about an ‘unlevel playing field’ vis-à-vis other regional competitors,
especially Bangladesh. However, given the important social implications of labour standards, but also more
elaborate economic considerations, these survey responses need to be considered with caution. A
discussion of the issue and possible policy implications are provided in the last part of this section
(‘Summary and policy options’).


Table 18: Clothing exports: burdensome NTMs applied by Sri Lankan authorities


Reported export product Export to the world Number of reported NTM cases


HS
product
code (as
reported)


Product code description
(abridged)


Product’s
export value


in 2009
(US$ ’000)


Share of
product in


the sector’s
export value*


Export
inspection


Export
taxes
and


charges


Sub-
total


610442
Women's or girls' dresses of cotton,
knitted or crocheted (excl.
petticoats)


16,215 0.50% 1 - 1


610821 Women's or girls' briefs and panties of cotton, knitted or crocheted 114,066 3.49% - 1 1


611020


Jerseys, pullovers, cardigans,
waistcoats and similar articles, of
cotton, knitted or crocheted (excl.
wadded waistcoats)


81,860 2.50% 1 - 1


611120
Babies' garments and clothing
accessories of cotton, knitted or
crocheted (excl. hats)


59,007 1.80% 1 - 1


6204XX


Women's or girls' suits, ensembles,
jackets, blazers, dresses, skirts,
divided skirts, trousers, bib and
brace overalls, breeches and shorts


n.a.** n.a.** 1 - 1


61XXXX Articles of apparel and clothing accessories, knitted or crocheted n.a.** n.a.** 1
t - 1t


Total 271,148 8.3% 5 1 6
Source: ITC survey on NTMs and ITC calculations based on Trade Map data.


* Total export value of the clothing sector is US$ 3,270,308,000.
** Trade data (value and share) is reported only for products on HS 6-digit level for consistency reasons.
t Measures reported by trading agents are marked by t, all other NTMs were reported by producing companies.


Difficulties with the terms of payment, in particular with conditions on the letters of credit demanded by
Japanese, Swiss and Turkish buyers for different products, were reported by one large firm for a
considerable number  18  cases. The problem is not directly related to the policies of the importing
countries, but perceived as anticompetitive behaviour on the side of buyers that seem to offer more
favourable terms of payment to other competitors. A small trading agent complained that internal taxes in
the European Union and the United States were burdensome on export operations of various apparel
products.




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 53


4.4. Non-tariff measures applied by Sri Lanka to clothing exports
As summarized in table 18, obstacles are also experienced domestically. The absolute number of export-
related NTMs is rather low (6 cases), and affected product categories account for only about 8% of Sri
Lanka’s clothing exports. This result seems to confirm Sri Lanka’s favourable policies for this important
export industry. Reported NTM cases mostly refer to export inspections with respect to compliance with
technical regulations; in one firm’s case this was also related to the GSP. This issue was extensively
discussed in the previous paragraphs. Additional handling charges at the Port Authorities were also
mentioned.


Table 19: Clothing exports: procedural obstacles and inefficient trade-related business
environment


POs and inefficient TBE
Number of PO/TBE cases that occurred


…in Sri Lanka
(and agencies involved, if specified) …in partner countries Sub-total


Delay in administrative
procedures 10+5


t Customs, BOI, Port Authorities, Dept. of Import and Export Control 1
t Indiat 16


Informal payment, e.g. bribes 6+2t Customs, BOI 1t Indiat 9


Inconsistent or arbitrary
behaviour of officials 8 Customs 8


Technological constraints,
e.g. information and
communications technologies
(ICT)


6 Customs 6


Inconsistent classification of
products 5 Customs 5


Documentation is difficult to
fill out 3 Customs 3


Large number of checks 2 Wharf, BOI, Banks 2


Large number of different
documents 1


t Indiat 1


Regulations change
frequently 1 Customs 1


Unusually high fees and
charges 1 Port Authorities 1


Inaccessible/limited
transportation system 1 1


Information is not adequately
published and disseminated 1


t Sri Lankan Airlines 1


Low security level for
persons and goods 1


t Customs 1


Other obstacles 1 1


Total 53 3 56
Source: ITC survey on NTMs.
t POs/TBE reported by trading agents are marked by t, all other obstacles were reported by producing companies.
Note on procedural obstacles/trade-related business environment cases in partner countries: Producing companies exporting
clothing do not report any POs or problems with inefficient TBE occurring in partner countries.




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


54 MAR-11-207.E


4.5. Procedural obstacles and inefficient trade-related business environment
affecting clothing exports


Apart from government-imposed regulations either abroad or
domestically, a considerable number of POs and an inefficient TBE
cause additional burdens for clothing exporters. Table 19 summarizes
these survey results for producing firms and trading agents,
respectively. Across all firms, 95% of these obstacles were experienced
domestically. As in other sectors, the most lamented obstacles are
general delays and excessive documentation, particularly at Customs.
Some more specific issues, such as electronic customs systems and
BOI, are also recurring.


The EDI customs system, which should allow electronic processing of a
number of trade documents, started in 2002 but is still not operational.
Exporters find the manual documentation time consuming and ask for
more efficiency in automated customs procedures. Furthermore, US$
2.50 is charged for each electronic customs declaration. Accordingly,
the utilization share of the EDI was only 17% in 2007.83 Several
complaints referred to generally high handling and terminal charges at
the Sri Lanka Port Authorities (SLPA).


The Board of Investment (BOI) offers tax advantages and facilitation of
procedures, in particular with respect to foreign exchange controls, inspections and documentation.84
However, firms actually complained about delays and complications in obtaining the relevant
documentation from the BOI. Also, the Port Audit Monitoring Unit at Customs was accused of disregarding
customs clearances issued by the BOI.


As seen in other sector analyses, obstacles were largely encountered at home. In the case of clothing
exports, the only procedural burdens experienced abroad were delays, excessive documentation and
informal payments in India.


4.6. Non-tariff measures and related procedural obstacles affecting clothing
imports


Out of eight clothing import firms interviewed face-to-face, only one company experienced burdensome
NTMs (see note below table 20). The medium-sized trading agent mentioned domestic inspections on
imports from very different countries, namely China, India and Italy. However, looking at only a single case
of NTMs and considering the very low total amount of clothing imports to Sri Lanka, policies seem to be a
negligible burden.


POs and an inefficient TBE were nevertheless common and every company interviewed reported two
cases on average. Once again, recurring issues were administrative delays, misclassification of imported
products and other inconsistent behaviour of officials that were attributed mostly to Customs and Port
Authorities. Table 20 summarizes the findings. Despite the low relative importance of clothing imports in
terms of trade value, these obstacles are recurring in almost all trade operations, and also in other sectors,
evaluated in this report, and thus add up to a major challenge for Sri Lankan firms.


4.7. Non-tariff measures and related procedural obstacles affecting textile
exports


Textiles are the most important input for Sri Lanka’s clothing industry, thus demand is very high and
domestically produced textiles need to be supplemented by imported textiles to a large extent.
Nevertheless, US$ 139 million in textiles is also exported. In the ITC business survey only one third of

83 Wijayasiri and Jayaratne (2009).
84 Website of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka: http://www.boi.lk/.


‘Manual processing of documents
takes a long time. Although
electronic documentation was
introduced eight years ago, it still
is not functioning efficiently.’  
Sri Lankan clothing exporter (ITC
survey on NTMs)


‘We need about twelve
employees to go to the BOI,
banks, wharf, etc. several times in
order to clear the documents to
meet the export on time.’  
Sri Lankan clothing exporter (ITC
survey on NTMs)




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 55


companies interviewed reported government-imposed restrictions on their exports. Notably, the affected
products do not even represent 1% of Sri Lanka’s textile exports, which may render the problems
insignificant. Despite the fact that one medium-sized firm has reported most of the NTMs shown in table
21, a detailed review of the questionnaire responses provides a few interesting insights.


Exporting toy textile accessories, a niche product, to several European Union countries, the firm needs to
comply with the complex and demanding European Union EN-71 safety regulations. Accordingly,
conformity assessment is required by the importing countries, namely Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden
and the United Kingdom. In this respect, the firm reports that domestic testing facilities such as the SLSI
are not recognized by the importer and samples needed to be sent abroad. Exporters producing processed
rubber and plastic toy products face the same issues – for further information please also refer to the
section on ‘Chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products’ later in this chapter. Another company similarly
reported facing certification requirements about technical regulations both in the United States and the
United Kingdom. The POs summarized in table 22 relate directly to high costs and lack of recognition of
the aforementioned testing and certification issues.


An exporter also lamented that exchange rate controls were leading to disadvantageous terms for revenue
obtained in foreign currencies. According to recent news, however, this matter is in the process of being
resolved by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.85


Only a single firm experienced burdensome regulations domestically. The exporter of bed sheets and
tablecloths needed to provide certification to the Forest Authority that the textiles used did not contain
protected types of fibres.


Table 20: Clothing imports: procedural obstacles and an inefficient trade-related
business environment


POs and inefficient TBE
Number of PO/TBE cases that occurred


…in Sri Lanka (and agencies
involved, if specified)


…in partner
countries Sub-total


Delay in administrative procedures 4 Customs, BOI, Port Authorities 1 India 5


Inconsistent classification of products 3 Customs 3
Other inconsistent or arbitrary behaviour of
officials 2 Customs 2


Unusually high fees and charges 2 Customs, Port Authorities 2


Large number of checks 1 Customs 1


Regulations change frequently 1 Customs 1


Delay during transportation 1 Customs and Port Authorities 1


Informal payment, e.g. bribes 1 Customs 1


Limited/inappropriate facilities 1 1


Technological constraints, e.g. ICT 1 Port Authorities 1


Total 17 1 18


Source: ITC survey on NTMs.


Note on non-tariff measures on clothing imports: One company (a trading agent) reports a burdensome conformity assessment
(difficult examination and valuation) applied by Sri Lankan Customs to the imports of garments.



85 ‘Sri Lanka exchange controls to be relaxed in Feb 01: CB Governor’, article of 18 January 2010 on Lanka Business Online:
http://www.lankabusinessonline.com/fullstory.php?nid=1415444178 (accessed on 24 March 2011).




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


56 MAR-11-207.E


Table 21: Textile exports: burdensome NTMs applied by partner countries


Reported export product Export to the world Number of reported NTM cases


HS
product
code (as
reported)


Product code
description
(abridged)


Product’s
export


value in
2009


(US$ ’000)


Share of
product in


the sector’s
export
value*


Technical
require-
ments


Conformit
y assess-


ment
Finance


measures


Sub
-


total


Countries
reported to


apply
burdensome


NTMs (number
of cases)


600632


Dyed fabrics,
knitted or
crocheted, of
synthetic fibres, of
a width of > 30 cm


1,111 0.80% - 2 - 2 EU, United States


630492
Articles for interior
furnishing, of
cotton


6 0.00% 1 1 1 3 EU (3)


630520
Sacks and bags,
for the packing of
goods, of cotton


246 0.18% 4 4 4 12 EU (12)


Total 1,363 0.98% 5 7 5 17
Source: ITC survey on NTMs and ITC calculations based on Trade Map data.


* Total export value of the clothing sector is US$ 139,094,000.


Note on burdensome NTMs applied by Sri Lanka: One producing company exporting bed sheets and tablecloths reports that it is
burdensome to obtain the export certificate required by the Forest Authority of Sri Lanka.


Table 22: Textile exports: procedural obstacles and an inefficient trade-related business
environment


POs and inefficient TBE


Number of PO/TBE cases that occurred


…in Sri Lanka
(and agencies involved, if


specified)
…in partner countries Sub-total


Unusually high fees and
charges 5 EU (5) 5


Lack of recognition e.g. of
national certificates 5 EU (5) 5


Informal payment, e.g. bribes 2 Customs 2


Other obstacles 7
EU (5), United
States (2) 7


Total 2 17 19
Source: ITC survey on NTMs.


4.8. Non-tariff measures and other obstacles affecting textile imports
As discussed in the introductory part of this section, Sri Lanka’s clothing industry relies heavily on imported
textile inputs. Both quick and low-cost import transactions are therefore absolutely crucial for the operation
of the clothing industry. It is therefore highly encouraging that only a negligible number of NTMs (2 cases)
were reported. Nevertheless, textile importers do encounter domestic POs and an inefficient TBE to a
considerable extent – on average 2.5 POs/TBE cases per interviewed firm.


Duties and several other charges have been lowered to zero and reimbursement schemes, such as the
TIEP Scheme and the recent SVAT scheme, have been introduced to tackle the aspect of input costs. The
Social Responsibility Levy (SRL) and PAL, although at a concessionary rate for imports for processing and
export, are still applied. The few remaining charges, the Sri Lanka Export Development Board cess and the
Nation Building Tax, are exempted under the TIEP I if imported textiles are used for processing and later




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 57


Box 2: Documentation required for TIEP I
registration


 Duly completed prescribed form [TIEP I] in triplicate
 Project report
 Certificate of VAT Registration
 Business Registration [Form 65]
 Memorandum of Article [Form 48]
 Data required for evaluating the conversion ratio and


wastage factor [they should be recommended by the
Ministry of Industries or other relevant line authority]


 Other necessary approvals [Tea Board, Coconut
Development Board, etc...] wherever applicable


All TIEP approvals are required to be renewed annually.


Source: Sri Lanka Customs information leaflet, accessed at
http://www.srilankabusiness.com/eresearch/pdf_files/TIEP-
1%20Scheme.pdf.


exports.86 As also mentioned by
importers in other manufacturing sectors
(see remaining sections of this section),
companies encounter difficulties with
delays and particularly extensive
paperwork required for the TIEP I
registration. Box 2 provides an overview
of the official documentation
requirements by the Customs
Directorate. Similar obstacles are
experienced with respect to the SVAT.
Both NTMs reported in table 23 and a
significant number of POs in table 24
refer to the aforementioned additional
charges and the respective delays and
documentation difficulties encountered
with the related reimbursement
schemes. While the intentions to
promote exports with these schemes are
clear and sound, their implementation
offers opportunities for further
streamlining.


With respect to the speed of operations in the clothing industry, it has been estimated that the turn-around
time of Sri Lanka’s apparel industry tends to be between 90 and 150 days, compared to an ideal
international duration of about 60 days.87 Much of this gap is certainly owed to the fact that inputs need to
be imported at all, which is a problem that is recognized by the Sri Lankan authorities and is approached
by long-standing promotion and investment strategies. Nevertheless, apart from the problem mentioned in
the previous paragraph, companies surveyed also pointed out some further issues with domestic POs and


an inefficient TBE with respect to imports, which hurt the
industry unnecessarily.


These reported obstacles (see table 24) refer to a wide range
of common problems encountered at Customs and Port
Authorities, which are mostly identical to those experienced in
other sectors: delays in cargo clearing and related costs are
caused by allegedly insufficient opening hours, the lack of
implementation of the electronic customs systems, changing
documentation requirements and a frequent unavailability of
officials. Customs and Port officials are also accused of
incorrect classification of products and even bribery.


4.9. Summary and policy options
The clothing and textiles industry is Sri Lanka’s largest export sector. It provides livelihoods for over a
million people. The industry is facing several major structural challenges: strong competition after the
phase-out of the quota-based MFA by the end of 2004; strong concentration on European Union and
United States markets; reliance on preferential market access. The latter point was particularly highlighted
by the recent temporary suspension of GSP+ preferences.


The burdensome NTMs and other obstacles identified by the ITC survey stand in close connection to these
issues. The predominant issues raised by apparel exporting firms concerned rules of origin documentation
and labour standards, both related to non-reciprocal GSP and GSP+ preferential agreements. On the one
hand, obtaining rules of origin certificates caused delays and additional costs, which is an administrative



86 WTO (2010) and Sri Lanka Customs website: http://www.customs.gov.lk/exp_promo.htm (accessed on 24 March 2011).
87 Kelegama (2005).


‘Most of the time the customs systems are
down and there is a long wait to clear
consignment. We have to pay heavy
demurrage (storage fees at the ports) due to
delays in clearing import consignment. When
the import of fabrics and accessories are
delayed many production lines are idle and
export dates cannot be met.’  
Sri Lankan clothing exporter (ITC survey on
NTMs)




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


58 MAR-11-207.E


burden that needs to be addressed. On the other hand, rules of origin requirements per se were difficult to
comply with. Sri Lankan clothing producers were troubled by strict local input requirements, especially
under the GSP+, as they strongly rely on imported textiles. Further evidence on this issue is a low
utilization rate of 67.1% of GSP+ preferences for exports to the European Union in 2009. The promotion of
vertical integration with domestic textile inputs may therefore improve access to preferences under the
rules of origin within preferential trade agreements. However, an excessive focus on domestic inputs for
such reasons is precarious. Preferences are very likely to erode in the medium or long term, as
competitors are extended the same preferences, or as they are easily withdrawn given that they are not
bound under WTO (World Trade Organization) legislation. Sri Lanka’s strong concentration on European
Union and the United States markets, as well as reliance on preferences, should therefore be reduced.88
Furthermore, despite efforts to strengthen domestic textile production, imports may remain cheaper and
more efficient due to reasons of comparative advantage.


Clothing products producers and exporters also felt to be disadvantaged over regional competitors due to
costs associated with relatively high labour standards. However, Sri Lanka’s successful strategy focus on
higher quality and initiatives like Garments Without Guilt (GWG), a nationwide initiative that grants the
GWG certificate to companies that comply with a certain cluster of standards, has improved the image of
the industry’s products. Despite the end of favourable export conditions under the MFA, industry growth
was therefore upheld and the domestic value added was increased.89,90 In addition to obvious social
advantages, a continuation of this strategy towards good production practices therefore also seems more
economically advisable than moving back to mass markets with competition from Bangladesh and China.
Government support for standards accreditation, also possibly private standards, could be a way to
increase product values and profit margins, facilitate market access to developed countries and open
further market opportunities.


Reflecting the value chain, the second vital pillar of the clothing industry is the fast and cost-efficient
importing of textile inputs. As mentioned above, imports may continue to be an essential and efficient way
to provide inputs to the clothing industry. Thus, it should be noted that any charges, duties and procedural
costs on imports directly reduce domestic value added and effectively act as taxes on clothing exports.
While the government’s trade policies indeed exhibit a strong focus on duty and tax reductions for textile
inputs, a few charges and problems with the implementation of reimbursement schemes remain. The SRL
and the PAL are still applied. Notably, the EDB cess on inputs and the NBT are supposed to be exempted
under the TIEP scheme for firms that import for processing and subsequent exporting. The SVAT scheme
also grants exemption of VAT liabilities on inputs. Yet, recurring complaints about extensive paperwork and
delays with respect to these support schemes hinder implementation and have a burdensome effect on the
industry. These administrative issues need to be addressed. Furthermore, simplifying the underlying
structure of para-tariff measures seems advisable as they reduce transparency for Sri Lankan companies.
Difficulties with unfavourable terms of payment demanded by private buyers may be mitigated by trade
finance institutions such as the SLECIC. The envisaged establishment of an export/import bank would be a
further promising step in this direction.


Apart from government-imposed NTMs, POs and an inefficient TBE were found to be a significant burden
to textile and clothing trade. With only a few exceptions, these problems were encountered in Sri Lanka.
Most complaints were related to Customs and Port Authorities, but also BOI. Frequently mentioned general
complaints were delays, difficult paperwork and insufficient opening hours. Customs officials were often
accused of incorrect classification of products and sometimes even of bribery. An insufficient
implementation of electronic customs procedures, such as the EDI customs system, was also lamented
several times. Further developing electronic customs infrastructure, coupled with training of officials in its
use, may solve several of these problems.



88 This issue was also highlighted by the president of the Joint Apparel Association Forum, Mr A. Sukumaran (see
http://sundaytimes.lk/110206/BusinessTimes/bt10.html).
89 Economist Intelligence Unit (2008).
90 Website of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, information on value added in industry at current market prices:
http://www.cbsl.gov.lk/htm/english/08_stat/s_2.html.




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 59


Table 23: Textile imports: burdensome NTMs applied by Sri Lankan authorities


Source: ITC survey on NTMs and ITC calculations based on Trade Map data.


* Total import of textile is US$ 1,437,936,000.
** Trade data (value and share) is reported only for products on HS 6-digit level for consistency reasons.


Table 24: Textile imports: procedural obstacles and inefficient trade-related business
environment


Source: ITC survey on NTMs.


Reported import product Import from the world Number of reported NTM cases


HS
product
code (as
reported)


Product code description (abridged)


Product’s
import value


in 2009
(US$ ’000)


Share of
product in


the sector’s
import
value*


Additional
charges


Sub-
total


580190


Woven pile fabrics and chenille fabrics (excl.
those of man-made fibres, wool or fine animal
hair, terry towelling and similar woven terry
fabrics, tufted textile fabrics and narrow
woven fabrics of heading 5806)


595 0.04% 1 1


5209XX
Woven fabrics of cotton, containing 85% or
more by weight of cotton, weighing more
than 200 g/m²


n.a.** n.a.** 1 1


Total 595 0.04% 2 2


POs and inefficient TBE
Number of PO/TBE cases that occurred


…in Sri Lanka …in partner countries Sub-total


Delay in administrative procedures 9 Customs, Port Authorities 9


Inconsistent classification of products 3 Customs 3


Technological constraints, e.g. ICT 3 Customs 3


Inconsistent or arbitrary behaviour of officials 2 2


Informal payment, e.g. bribes 2 Customs 2


Limited/inappropriate facilities 2 Port Authorities 2


Large number of checks 1 Customs 1


No due notice for changes in procedure 1 Customs 1


Unusually high fees and charges 1 Pakistan 1


Lack of recognition e.g. of national certificates 1 Pakistan 1


Other obstacles 2 Chamber of Commerce, Customs 1 Pakistan 3


Total 25 3 28




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


60 MAR-11-207.E


5. Chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products


5.1. The sector and its role in the value chain
Chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products represent the third largest industrial sector in terms of
value added to Sri Lanka’s gross domestic product (GDP), accounting for 10.6% of total industrial value
added. In 2009, Sri Lanka has exported chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products worth US$ 347
million, representing 4.7% of total exports. After value-added growth rates (in 2002 constant prices)
continuously exceeding 5% since 2002, increases have dropped to 2% in 2009 due to the global
downturn.91 In terms of exports, the crisis has been more severe with a 32.4% decline in 2009 after a still
strong export growth of 15.1% in 2008. Especially rubber-based products, constituting the second largest
export-oriented industry, were strongly affected by increased costs of inputs. Low demand in the
international construction sector and for tyres reduced revenues for many chemicals, plastics and rubber-
based products.92


Having imported for US$ 1,164 million in 2009, the trade balance is strongly negative, but these numbers
only reflect a purely statistical perspective.93 The sector must not be looked at as independent, but as an
essential part of the value chain for many Sri Lankan products. Within the sector, chemicals like styrene
and anhydrides are inputs for processed rubber and plastic production. Furthermore, several products are
inputs for production in other sectors, which are not considered in the above production and trade
statistics: fertilizers and fungicides are crucial in all agricultural sectors, several plastics such as nylon or
polyamides are used in the production of textiles and clothing. Since agricultural goods and apparel
represent the lion’s share of Sri Lanka’s commodity exports, access to chemicals and plastics as inputs is
indirectly of major importance for exports. In this respect, rubber is an exception, as Sri Lanka is a large
producer of both raw rubber as well as processed rubber products. In conclusion, trade restrictions of
sector imports applied by Sri Lanka against foreign exporters should be viewed as an impediment for
domestic producers and subsequent exports.


It should be noted that the above statistics and considerations refer to the ITC survey’s classification of the
sector, which slightly deviates from Sri Lanka’s domestic sector definition that also includes petroleum and
coal products. Given the special nature of these sub-sectors, which are dominated by state companies and
large multinationals in a very particular international market, they are beyond the scope of this survey. For
example, Sri Lankan petroleum trade, processing and domestic supplying is conducted by the Ceylon
Petroleum Corporation94 and is therefore not relevant for a private sector survey.


5.2. Companies affected by trade barriers
Reflecting the aforementioned structure of value chains and resulting direction of trade, the ITC survey
also provides a stronger emphasis on imports. Thus, out of 46 face-to-face interviews with Sri Lankan
companies, 20 firms import and export, 22 only import and 4 are
exclusively exporting. Out of the 42 firms that have an import activity,
64% are trading agents that do not have their own production activity.


A large majority of firms surveyed (90%) reported burdensome non-
tariff trade measures (NTMs) for their import transactions, as opposed
to only few cases for exports. Looking at a more disaggregated
composition of the sector reveals that Sri Lanka’s exports from this
sector are dominated by rubber-based products, which account for
77% of the sector’s exports. It is conceivable that these products are
much less subject to regulation than potentially hazardous chemical
products, which represent the largest share of Sri Lanka’s sectoral
imports. The low representation of NTMs on exports should therefore

91 Calculations based on Central Bank of Sri Lanka data on value added in industry (2002 constant prices).
92 Central Bank of Sri Lanka (2009).
93 ITC calculations based on Trade Map data, 2011.
94 See website of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation: http://www.ceypetco.gov.lk/.


‘Importer Security Filing form and
a lot of additional documentation
waste time. Getting numbers is a
chore. We have to get bill of lading
number – sometimes they give
wrong numbers. We need to
submit this within four days, which
is hard.’  
A Sri Lankan rubber-based
product exporter (ITC survey on
NTMs)




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 61


not come as a surprise. Following the same logic, it is also understandable that 93% of burdensome NTMs
are reported to be applied by Sri Lankan authorities. While some of the observations from export-related
NTM complaints will be mentioned subsequently, the focus of discussion in this section will be on imports.


Firm size plays an important role in determining which sort of NTM companies encounter. The largest
proportion (42%) of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) interviewed reported conformity
assessment as a burden on imports. Large companies, however, mentioned charges, taxes and para-tariff
measures as the main NTM (43%), with only 29% encountering problems with conformity assessment.
Given that larger firms have more financial resources for testing and certification, the latter observation is
quite intuitive. Technical requirements affect about 15% of companies of all sizes interviewed.


Whether firms are producers or mere trading agents also makes a significant difference in the NTMs
mentioned: Producing and trading companies mainly report conformity assessment (50% of producers) as
an obstacle. Trading agents particularly find additional charges and para-tariff measures (32% of trading
agents) problematic. Yet, technical requirements (27% of all companies) and conformity assessment (26%)
constitute common trade burdens.


Procedural obstacles and an inefficient trade-related business environment are often reported – on
average three different cases per firm interviewed. Corresponding to the encountered NTMs, these
obstacles mostly occur in Sri Lanka. Delays in administration and transportation (45 cases, of which 6
cases in partner country), issues of product classification (22 cases, of which 1 case in partner country),
and unusually high fees or informal payments (21 cases, of which 1 case in partner country) particularly
stand out.


5.3. Non-tariff measures applied by partner countries and related procedural
obstacles affecting exports


Two large producers of rubber-based products, an important exporting sub-sector, encountered barriers to
their exports in partner countries. Firms lament difficulties with documentation and customs handling in the
United States, and name issues of obtaining required certification for exports to the European Union (see


table 25).


Technical requirements and respective conformity assessment due
to the European Union’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and
Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation on chemical
substances95 have been pointed out in detail. While the implied
requirements per se are difficult to comply with, i.e. constituting a
NTM applied by the European Union, resulting POs due to a lack of
appropriate testing facilities occur domestically (table 27).
Additional stakeholder interviews revealed that small firms are
troubled by high testing and certification costs at private sector
facilities. The Industrial Technology Institute (ITI), a Sri Lankan


governmental testing agency, acknowledged the demand, but pointed out that the required initial
investments for certain testing procedures are too high. On a related matter, according to the European
Chamber of Commerce (ECC) of Sri Lanka, the ITI was not aware of the REACH standard until the ECC
initiated contact. This indicates a potential to improve the information flow between those who impose
standards and those who should provide the respective certification.


5.4. Non-tariff measures applied by Sri Lanka and related procedural obstacles
affecting exports


Chemicals exporters from Sri Lanka are faced with problems in customs clearance and inspection. The
exports affected by these NTMs, however, are likely to be negligible (see also table 26). The measures
relate to product properties that may be harmful to ‘humans, animals or plants’, but exporters perceive the



95For more information on REACH, see: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/reach/reach_intro.htm.


‘The EU has very strict requirements
for toy imports, from chemical content
of the paint to physical specifications.
A lack of requisite testing facilities in
Sri Lanka forces companies to send
samples abroad for testing and
certification, increasing both cost and
the time required to export.’  
A Sri Lankan toy producer (ITC survey
on NTMs)




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


62 MAR-11-207.E


measures as excessive. Related POs are
administrative delays and alleged corruption in order
to obtain customs clearances (see table 27).


Trading agents, although mostly small in size, did
not report government-imposed trade restrictions in
the face-to-face interviews conducted for the survey.
A likely explanation is the focus of these firms on the
actual export operation, giving them particular
expertise in dealing with customs procedures that
producing firms may not have. However, they complain about the inconsistent and arbitrary behaviour of
Sri Lanka Customs officials, particularly mentioning informal payments, and insecure as well as limited
trade facilities (see also table 27).


Table 25: Chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products exports: burdensome NTMs
applied by partner countries


Reported export product Export to the world Number of reported NTM cases


HS
product
code (as
reported)


Product code
description
(abridged)


Product’s
export


value in
2009


(US$ ’000)


Share of
product in


the sector’s
export
value*


Conformity
assessment


Pre-
shipment


inspection
and other
formalities


Sub-
total


Countries
reported to


apply
burdensome


NTMs


4001XX


Synthetic rubber
and factice
derived from oils,
in primary forms
or in plates,
sheets or strips


n.a.** n.a.** 1 - 1 EU


401699
Articles of
vulcanized rubber
(excl. hard
rubber), n.e.s.


25,270 7.29% - 1 1 United States


Total 25,270 7.29% 1 1 2


Source: ITC survey on NTMs and ITC calculations based on Trade Map data.


* Total export value of chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products is US$ 346,622,000.
** Trade data (value and share) is reported only for products on HS 6-digit level for consistency reasons.


Table 26: Chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products exports: burdensome NTMs
applied by Sri Lankan authorities


Reported export product Export to the world Number of reported NTM cases


HS
product
code (as
reported)


Product code
description (abridged)


Product’s
export value


in 2009
(US$ ’000)


Share of
product in


the sector’s
export
value*


Export
inspection


Other export
related


measure
Sub-
total


283429 Nitrates (excl. potassium and mercury) 26 0.01% - 1 1


390791
Unsaturated polyesters
and other polyesters, in
primary forms


26 0.01% 1 - 1


Total 56 0.02% 1 1 2
Source: ITC survey on NTMs and ITC calculations based on Trade Map data.


* Total export value of chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products is US$ 346,622,000.
** Trade data (value and share) is reported only for products on HS 6-digit level for consistency reasons.


‘We have to clear cargo within 48 hours of arrival as it
is categorized as "Dangerous Cargo"; otherwise we
have to pay high damage. Customs administration
problems cause hindrance in clearing: all the officers
are not present at the time and thus we are penalized
for no fault of ours.’  
A Sri Lankan chemicals exporter (ITC survey on NTMs)




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 63


Table 27: Chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products exports: procedural obstacles
and inefficient trade-related business environment


POs and inefficient TBE


Number of PO/TBE cases that occurred
…in Sri Lanka


(and agencies involved, if
specified)


…in partner
countries


Sub-
total


Informal payment, e.g. bribes 3t Customs 3


Low security level for persons and goods 2t Customs 2


Limited/inappropriate facilities 1+1t 2


Delay during transportation 1 Customs 1 United States 2


Delay in administrative procedures 1+1t Customs 2


Documentation is difficult to fill out 1t Customs 1


Large number of different documents 1 United States 1


Unusually high fees and charges 1 EU 1


Inconsistent classification of products 1t 1
Other inconsistent or arbitrary behaviour of
officials 1


t 1


Inaccessible/limited transportation system 1 1


Technological constraints, e.g. ICT
(information and communications
technologies)


1 1


Other obstacles 1t Customs 1


Total 16 3 19
Source: ITC survey on NTMs.
t POs/TBE reported by trading agents are marked by t, all other obstacles were reported by producing companies.


5.5. Non-tariff measures applied by Sri Lanka and related procedural obstacles
affecting imports


Burdensome NTMs encountered by Sri Lankan importers of chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products
are exclusively reported to be applied by the home country. Judging from the affected product lines, 34.5%
of imports in the sector are affected by NTMs. As mentioned before, the impact on domestic processing
firms and exports, also in other sectors, is likely to be significant.


With respect only to producing firms’ import activities, SMEs mostly complained about conformity
assessment (63% of all reported NTMs among producing SME importers), while large firms were only
troubled by charges, taxes and para-tariff measures. Trading agents exhibit a similar pattern, although they
tend to be more concerned about technical regulations.


In the following, the major observed categories of NTMs will be discussed in further detail, also taking into
account specific comments from the NTM survey as well as additional interviews with experts and
stakeholders. The general results of import-related NTMs are summarized in table 28.


5.5.1. Technical requirements, conformity assessment and related procedural
obstacles


Firms importing products from the chemicals sub-sector are especially affected by conformity assessment
(64% of all reported NTM cases in the sector). Considering the special nature of chemicals this is not
surprising, and is justified to the extent that human, animal and plant health need to be protected.  




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


64 MAR-11-207.E


Imports of organic chemicals, colouring substances, lubricants, and
fertilizers, insecticides and fungicides are impeded most strongly by
conformity assessment and technical requirements. The two former
groups of products are inputs for plastic and rubber processing, the third
includes important substances for machinery of all kinds, and the latter
are crucial for the entire agricultural sector. Consequently, Sri Lanka’s
main export sectors are affected by these NTMs applied on imports.


Yet, the problems experienced by the business sector mostly concern conformity assessment, rather than
technical requirements themselves. In turn, difficulties with conformity assessment largely rest upon two


main domestic factors: a lack and insufficient capacity of domestic
testing facilities, and inefficient clearance at Customs/Port Authority.
Importing firms and stakeholders report several POs in this respect.
These are also presented in table 29. Complaints about customs point
out extensive inspections and documentation, delays and even
corruption. Governmental testing and certification institutions reportedly
take too much time or do not provide the required testing services. On
the other hand, private sector firms, either domestic or outsourced
internationally, involve higher costs that are hard to bear for small firms
in particular. Given the special properties of potentially hazardous
chemical substances, issues with POs and an inefficient TBE are not
only reported for Customs and Port Authorities, but also involve
institutions like the Defence Ministry, Health Ministry and Environment
Ministry, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (in the case of greases and
resins for oil machinery) and the SLSI.


Pharmaceuticals, which are exclusively imported by trading agents, as no further processing is intended for
the product group, are subject to both technical requirements and conformity assessment. Importers
lament excessive documentation and very long delays in cosmetics, devices and drugs (CDD) certification.


5.5.2. Additional charges and measures related to imports for processing and
export


Many reports of additional charges (50%) refer to imports of raw plastics, which are particularly employed
as inputs for textiles and packaging materials and therefore of major importance for some of Sri Lanka’s
main export products (table 28).


A 15% import surcharge was applied to the customs duty of many goods, including plastics during the time
of the ITC survey, but – after several revisions – was eliminated as of 1 June 2010. Furthermore, products
have been affected by a cess levied by the Sri Lanka Export Development Board since 2004; however,
imports of raw or intermediate inputs for processing and subsequent export should be exempted from the
cess according to the TIEP scheme.96 Nevertheless, while even large companies complain about the
difficulties and excessive paperwork needed for a company to be exempted from the levy or reimbursed,
small companies may not even be aware of the scheme, as a representative of the EDB remarked.97


Similarly, while the Sri Lankan government’s SVAT system, implemented by the EDB, is intended to
reduce tax burdens on the purchase of raw and intermediate inputs for the production of a final export
product,98 SMEs seem to have problems coping with delays, as well as documentation and registration
requirements (see also table 29).



96 WTO (2010); see also http://www.customs.gov.lk/exp_promo.htm (accessed on 24 March 2011).
97 See also section 4 in the chapter on ‘Clothing and textiles’ and box 2.
98 Sri Lanka Export Development Board website: http://www.srilankabusiness.com/announ%5CExporters%5Cindex.htm (accessed on
24 March 2011).


‘Sri Lanka Customs take out
samples from every shipment for
testing but they don’t give any
kind of certification after testing.’  
A Sri Lankan chemicals importer
(ITC survey on NTMs)


‘Government certification
agencies such as SLSI and ITI
cover some of the testing not
provided by private sector firms,
such as pesticide testing in tea.
However, there are still many
certifications that require
outsourcing to an international
testing facility. There were
financial constraints to expanding
SLSI's testing facilities.’  
Interview at the Sri Lanka
Standards Institution (SLSI)




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 65


5.6. Summary and policy options
Despite a distinctly negative trade balance, the sector is of crucial importance to Sri Lanka’s domestic
production and exports. The chemicals and raw plastics sub-sectors provide essential raw and
intermediate inputs for Sri Lanka’s major export sectors, agriculture, textiles and apparel, and processed
rubber and plastics. With an estimated 34.5% of the sector’s imports being affected by NTMs, the impact
on exports of the aforementioned industries is significant. Observing that all NTMs on imports are reported
to be applied by Sri Lankan authorities, looking at domestic restrictions thus deserves equal attention as
foreign protection in ‘classic’ export sectors.


Processed rubber products constitute an exception with strong net exports in the sub-sector, as both raw
rubber and processed rubber products are produced domestically. Exporters are faced with strict
certification and documentation requirements in the European Union and the United States. An alleged
lack of domestic testing infrastructure aggravates the issue. In this respect Sri Lankan authorities have the
opportunity to alleviate burdens by investing in domestic institutions and facilities.


Small and medium-sized importers are particularly concerned with conformity assessment and technical
requirements applied by Sri Lankan authorities. Firms importing chemicals are especially troubled by
testing and certification requirements imposed to protect human, animal and plant life. While enforcing
necessary environmental protection itself should not be an issue to be discussed, inflicting excessive
procedural burdens on the business sector should be minimized. In fact, only a minority of reported
difficulties refer to the actual technical requirements, but rather to burdens in demonstrating compliance
and with POs. To a large extent, the solution therefore depends on the efficient implementation of
inspections by customs authorities as well as on effective domestic testing and certification facilities.
Respective investments into technical infrastructure and training of involved officials are advisable.


Sri Lanka has imposed additional import surcharges and para-tariff measures (cess by the EDB). Raw
inputs for later processing and export are supposed to be exempted based on the provisions of the TIEP
scheme. However, companies complain about a lack of information, extensive documentation and delays
in the procedure, which is particularly hard to bear for small firms. Similar observations are made with
respect to VAT reimbursements in Sri Lanka’s SVAT system. While the imposed exemption and
reimbursement measures clearly show Sri Lanka’s export promotion policy, whether the intended effect
can be achieved or not rests upon their implementation. The given obstacles weigh heavily on small
entrepreneurs and smallholders and detract from the government’s objective of supporting SMEs. Further
to streamlining processes and administration, the simplification of the apparently complex structure of
additional taxes and charges, or even conversion into regular tariffs, may have a beneficial effect on both
imports and exports.





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66 MAR-11-207.E


Table 28: Chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products imports: burdensome NTMs applied by Sri Lankan authorities
Reported import product Import from the world Number of reported NTM cases


HS
product


code (as
reported)


Product code description (abridged)


Product’s
import value


in 2009
(US$ ’000)


Share of
product in


the sector’s
import


value*


Technical
require-


ments


Conformity
assess-


ment


Charges,
taxes and


other para-
tariff


measures


Finance
Measures


Rules of
origin


Sub-
total


Organic chemicals


29XXXX Organic chemicals n.a.** n.a.** 1 - - - - 1


290250 Styrene 673 0.06% - 1 - - - 1


2903XX Halogenated derivatives of hydrocarbons n.a.** n.a.** 1 - - - - 1


290532 Propylene glycol propane-1,2-diol 520 0.04% - 1 - - - 1


291714 Maleic anhydride 132 0.01% - 1 - - - 1


291735 Phthalic anhydride 538 0.05% - 1 - - - 1


300390 Medicaments consisting of two or more constituents mixed together for therapeutic or prophylactic uses 552 0.05% - - 1 - - 1


Pharmaceutical products


3004XX Medicaments (excluding goods of heading 30.02) n.a.** n.a.** - 2 1 - - 3


300490 Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic purposes 135,227 11.61% 2 1 - - - 3


Fertilizers
310210 Urea, whether or not in aqueous solution 110,411 9.48% - - - 1 - 1


310240 Mixtures of ammonium nitrate with calcium carbonate or other inorganic non-fertilizing substances 0 0.00% 1 - - - - 1


Colouring substances
320500 Colour lakes; preparations 1,359 0.12% - - 1 - - 1


3206XX Other colouring matter; preparations n.a.** n.a.** - 1 - - - 1


321100 Prepared driers 603 0.05% - 1 - - - 1


Cosmetics


330510 Shampoos 1,954 0.17% 1 - - - - 1


Soaps and lubricants


34XXXX Soaps and lubricants n.a.** n.a.** - - 1 - - 1


3403XX Lubricating preparations (including cutting-oil preparations) n.a.** n.a.** 1 1 1 - - 3


340399 Lubricant preparations 2,558 0.22% 1 - - - - 1




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 67


Reported import product Import from the world Number of reported NTM cases


HS
product


code (as
reported)


Product code description (abridged)


Product’s
import value


in 2009
(US$ ’000)


Share of
product in


the sector’s
import


value*


Technical
require-


ments


Conformity
assess-


ment


Charges,
taxes and


other para-
tariff


measures


Finance
Measures


Rules of
origin


Sub-
total


3405XX Polishes and creams n.a.** n.a.** - 1 - - - 1


Insecticides, Fungicides and miscellaneous chemicals
380891 Insecticides 9,748 0.84% - 1 - - - 1


380892 Fungicides 3,847 0.33% - 1 - - - 1


382200 Diagnostic or laboratory reagents on a backing 5,538 0.48% 1 - - - - 1


Plastics and articles thereof
3901XX Polymers of ethylene, in primary forms n.a.** n.a.** - 1 1 - - 2


390110 Polyethylene with a specific gravity of < 0,94, in primary forms 41,118 3.53% - - 2 - - 2


390120 Polyethylene with a specific gravity of >= 0,94, in primary forms 29,082 2.50% - 1 1 - - 2


390210 Polypropylene, in primary forms 31,891 2.74% - - 1 - - 1


3904XX Polymers of vinyl chloride or of other halogenated olefins, in primary forms, NOT SPECIFIED n.a.** n.a.** - - 1 - - 1


390690 Acrylic polymers, in primary forms (excl. polymethyl methacrylate) 3,262 0.28% - - - 1 - 1


390890 Polyamides, in primary forms (excl. polyamides-6, -11, -12, -6,6, -6,9, -6,10 and -6,12) 1,156 0.10% - 1 - - - 1


391990 Self-adhesive plates 6,968 0.60% - - - 1 1


392020 Plates of polymers of propylene 13,611 1.17% - - - 1 1 2


Rubber and articles thereof


4011XX New pneumatic tyres, of rubber n.a.** n.a.** - - 1 - - 1


401140 New pneumatic tyres, of rubber, of a kind used for motorcycles 1,331 0.11% - 2 - - - 2


Total 1,164,425 34.5% 9 18 12 4 1 44


Source: ITC survey on NTMs and ITC calculations based on Trade Map data.


* Total import value of chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products is US$ 1,164,525,000.
** Trade data (value and share) is reported only for products on HS 6-digit level for consistency reasons




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


68 MAR-11-207.E


Table 29: Chemicals, plastics and rubber-based products imports: procedural obstacles
and inefficient trade-related business environment


POs and inefficient TBE
Number of PO/TBE cases that occurred


…in Sri Lanka
(and agencies involved, if specified)


…in partner
countries


Sub-
total


Delay in administrative procedures 29


Customs, Ceylon Petroleum
Corporation, Defence Ministry,
Chamber of Commerce, Health
Ministry, SLSI, Port Authorities,
Dept. of Inland Revenue,
Environment Ministry


4


China
Bangladesh,
India, Chinese
Taipei


33


Informal payment, e.g. bribes 14 Customs, Port Authorities 14


Inconsistent classification of
products 10 Customs 10


Other inconsistent or arbitrary
behaviour of officials 9


Customs, Ceylon Petroleum
Corporation, Defence Ministry 1 China 10


Delay during transportation 8 Customs, Dept. of Commerce 8


Information is not adequately
published and disseminated 6 Customs 6


Inaccessible/limited transportation
system 5 5


Other obstacles 5 Customs, Ministry of Defence, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation 5


Regulations change frequently 4 4


Limited/inappropriate facilities 4 Customs 4


Low security level for persons and
goods 4 Customs 4


Documentation is difficult to fill out 3 Customs 3


No due notice for changes in
procedure 3 3


Unusually high fees and charges 3 Customs, Port Authorities 3


Large number of different
documents 2 Customs 2


Large number of checks 2 Customs 2


Technological constraints, e.g.
information and communications
technologies (ICT)


2 Customs, Port Authorities 2


Total 113 5 118


Source: ITC survey on NTMs.




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 69


6. Other manufacturing products


6.1. Sector composition and trade background
The ‘other manufacturing products’ sector comprises the remaining subsectors of manufacturing that have
not been treated previously in this report. Jointly, domestic production in these industries accounts for 13%
of Sri Lanka’s total value added, and 30% of manufacturing value added.99 The group of subsectors
represents only 16% of manufacturing exports, but 53% of total manufacturing imports. Figure 15 shows
trade statistics at a more disaggregated level, also indicating the product groups evaluated as part of the
other manufacturing sector.


The overall negative trade balance amounts to US$ 2,353 million. However, as for the case of chemicals
and plastics, it should be kept in mind that many goods in this sector are important inputs for domestic
production and services, and that this indirect impact on value added and exports is not reflected in the
above-mentioned numbers. Some products, such as leather, wood and metals, serve as intermediates for
production of further processed manufacturing. While a number of products, such as machinery, transport
equipment, computers and other consumer electronics, are usually not re-exported as a direct input, they
serve as essential inventory inputs for specific and general business operations. This not only affects
manufacturing industries, but also all other sectors, from agriculture and agricultural processing to the
growing services sector.


Sri Lanka’s industrial policy aims to promote diversification and expansion of industrial production and
exports. The balancing act between giving infant industry protection to manufacturing, on the one hand,
and not restricting access to inputs for other sectors, as well as allowing for healthy competition, on the
other hand, is a major challenge for trade policy.


Figure 15: Exports and imports of subsectors comprised in other manufacturing in 2009



Source: ITC calculations based on Trade Map data, 2010. 



99 Calculations based on data on value added in industry at current market prices from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. In the definition
used by the ITC survey, processed food and agro-based products are grouped together with agricultural products.


0 200 400 600 800 1,000


Computers, telecommunications and
consumer electronics


Leather and leather products


Non-electric machinery


Wood, wood products and paper


Metal and other basic manufacturing


Transport equipment


Electronic components


Miscellaneous manufacturing


Exports Imports (in US$ million)




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


70 MAR-11-207.E


6.2. Companies affected by trade barriers
Phone screen interviews with 247 companies showed an overall share of 68% of companies being affected
by burdensome NTMs and other obstacles. Both exporting and importing operations were almost equally
troubled by NTMs, with 67% and 69% respectively. Out of all companies interviewed, small firms (75% are
affected) struggle more with trade barriers than large firms (58%) that tend to have more financial
resources (see figure 16).


The ITC survey conducted face-to-face interviews with 82 firms affected by burdensome NTMs, procedural
obstacles and an inefficient trade-related business environment. Mirroring the actual direction of trade, 44
firms both import and export, 30 only import and 8 only export. While 48% of these firms were producing
companies, the remaining 52% of firms were trading agents or forwarding companies. Firms were
classified by based on the number of employees: 41 firms as small, 26 as medium-sized and 15 as large.


In this sample, 85% of burdensome NTMs were reported for import transactions, of which all referred to Sri
Lankan authorities. Burdens on exports were mentioned as being applied by partner countries in 91% of
cases.


Figure 16: Other manufacturing companies affected by trade barriers, by size



Source: ITC survey on NTMs.


6.3. Non-tariff measures applied by partner countries and related procedural
obstacles affecting exports


Producers and exporters of manufacturing products complain in particular about additional charges and
taxes (27% of reported NTMs in this group), standards (23%) and related certification problems (27%).
Table 30 provides an overview.


Sri Lankan electronic component exporters report that India’s Customs overestimate value addition and
thus levy higher taxes. Similarly, an exporter of miscellaneous final
manufacturing products claims to bear an excessive burden of VAT
payments due to an undervaluation of raw material inputs in several
European Union countries. Another complaint concerns additional
charges for domestic transportation being levied by the Maldives.


Safety standards, especially for physical properties and chemical
contents of toy products as defined by the European EN-71
regulation,100 are applied by European Union countries as well as
Australia. Sri Lankan producers face difficulties both in complying with
the standards per se, but also lament high costs of certifying
compliance at foreign testing facilities. Furthermore, they complain that
authorities in the aforementioned countries sometimes do not respect
Sri Lankan certifications (also refer to POs, table 34). Difficulties with

100 See: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/european-standards/documents/harmonised-standards-legislation/list-references/toys/.


24


28


23


71


55


32


0 20 40 60 80


Small companies


Medium-sized companies


Large companies
Number of companies
interviewed that experienced
obstacles to trade


Number of companies
interviewed that do not
experience trade obstacles


‘[There are] stringent safety
regulations such as EN-71.’  
‘The cost of testing is very high as
the items need to be sent abroad
for testing before exporting.
Testing should be done in Sri
Lanka at a standard price to help
export markets, such as small
niche markets.’ 
A Sri Lankan toys exporter (ITC
survey on NTMs)




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 71


rules of origin measures with respect to wood are reported for Denmark and Japan, but a large part of the
actual problem seems to be obtaining the relevant certificate from the domestic Forestry Ministry.


The only reported case of an affected trading agent is a high import deposit for jewellery exports to France
(table 30).


6.4. Non-tariff measures applied by Sri Lanka and related procedural obstacles
affecting exports


The vast majority of export-related NTMs are reported by producing and exporting firms, whereas only one
trading agent complains about additional charges levied by Sri Lanka Customs on articles of jewellery.
Over 80% of the affected firms are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are particularly
concerned with inspection, certification and export licensing. Table 31 summarizes the survey results.


Producers of a diverse mixture of manufacturing products, from books and furniture to electrical and non-
electrical machinery, are troubled by inspection and certification requirements. These troubles involve not
only POs surrounding inspection delays and costs faced at Sri Lanka Customs (see table 34), but also
technical measures imposed and certification by the SLSI or the
Forestry Ministry (e.g. paper mill certificate). Small handicraft art
producers lament a large number of export licenses to be
obtained for various inputs such as wood, leather and raw
agricultural materials.


An exporter of scrap metals reports a prohibition of copper
exports. While an actual prohibition could not be confirmed from
policy documents,101 a 50% export cess on the free-on-board
value of the merchandise is applied. The fact that Sri Lanka
indeed does not export copper102 may hint that the cess is
prohibitively high. Such additional charges were also reported to
be burdensome, yet not prohibitive, by other exporters of metal,
which face 10% to 25% cesses according to the Sri Lanka Export
Development Board (EDB) Act No. 4.103


6.5. Non-tariff measures applied to imports
Both producing companies and trading agents are affected by burdensome NTMs on input and final goods
imports. Producing firms emphasize the negative impact of additional charges and taxes (43% of reported
NTMs of importing producing firms). Conformity assessment (27% of reported NTMs of all importing firms)
and pre-shipment inspections (16%) account for another large share of reported NTMs across both types
of firms. Technical requirements are only mentioned by trading agents. Quantity controls and finance
measures represent the remaining burdens on imports of other manufacturing products to Sri Lanka.


Across all burdensome NTMs, metal manufacturing, basic manufacturing, non-electric machinery,
electronics, computer and telecommunication equipment were most strongly affected (78% of reported
NTMs on imports). The surprisingly low number of small firms that reported NTMs (26%) could be rated as
a success of Sri Lanka’s industrial policy that is aimed at promoting SMEs in manufacturing.104 The
observed burdensome NTMs were all reported to be applied by Sri Lankan authorities (table 32 provides
an overview) with the only exception of export licensing applied in Singapore to electronic products (see
table 33). As a result of most of these NTMs, companies face additional costs and delays.



101 The Imports and Exports Control Act (see http://www.customs.gov.lk/docs/25298.pdf) requires export licensing for precious scrap
metals according to Extraordinary Gazette No 1574-12 (see
http://www.imexport.gov.lk/download/Comodity%20list%20under%20Extraordinary%20Gazette%20No%201574-12.pdf). Copper,
however, is not included.
102 According to ITC Trade Map data (2010).
103 WTO (2010).
104 Ibid.


‘Direct Trader Input (DTI) systems have
been used for the last 10 years by
Customs, but still have not come to the
second stage.’  
‘X-ray machines are available, but hardly
used for cargo examination procedures.
Physical examination takes a long time
and costs a lot of money.’
‘In addition to the normal documents,
four other types of documents are
needed to get approval for export
shipment.’ 
A Sri Lankan exporter of mattresses (ITC
survey on NTMs)




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


72 MAR-11-207.E


Table 30: Other manufacturing products exports: burdensome NTMs applied by partner countries


Source: ITC survey on NTMs and ITC calculations based on Trade Map data.


Table 31: Other manufacturing products exports: burdensome NTMs applied by Sri Lankan authorities


Affected product groups


Export to the world Number of reported NTM cases
Export value in


2009
(US$ ’000)


Share of product
group in the sector’s


export value*


Inspection,
certification and


technical measures
Licences, quotas


and prohibitions
Taxes and


charges
Other export


related
measures


Sub-
total


Metal, basic manufacturing and
non-electric machinery 135,586 19.79% - 1 1+1


t 2 5


Wood, wood products and paper 56,501 8.25% - 2 - - 2
Electronics, computers and
telecoms 142,994 20.87% 2 - - - 2


All remaining manufacturing
products 349,967 51.09% 5 4 1 - 10


Total 685,048 100.0% 7 7 3 2 19
Source: ITC survey on NTMs and ITC calculations based on Trade Map data.


*Total export value of other manufacturing products is US$ 685,048,000.
t Measures reported by trading agents are marked by t, all other NTMs were reported by producing companies.


Note: In order to facilitate understanding of the table above, product groupings condense highly disaggregated product-level information. By construction, the share of affected products in the
sector’s total export value therefore adds up to 100%; this does not imply that all trade is actually affected by NTMs.


Affected product
groups


Export to the world Number of reported NTM cases


Export value
in 2009


(US$ ’000)


Share of
product


group in the
sector’s


export
value*


Technical
require-


ments


Conformity
assess-


ment


Charges,
taxes and


other para-
tariff


measures


Quantity
control


measures
Finance


measures
Rules


of
origin


Sub-
total


Countries reported
to apply


burdensome NTMs
(number of cases)


Metal, basic
manufacturing and non-
electric machinery


135,586 19.79% 1 - - - - 1 2 India, United States


Wood, wood products
and paper 56,501 8.25% - - - - - 2 2 EU, Japan


Electronics, computers
and telecoms 142,994 20.87% - - 1 - - - 1 India


All remaining
manufacturing products 349,967 51.09% 4 6 5 1 1


t - 17
EU (9+1t), Australia


(3), India, Japan,
Maldives, Singapore


Total 685,048 100.0% 5 6 6 1 1 3 22




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 73


Table 32: Other manufacturing products imports: burdensome NTMs applied by Sri
Lankan authorities


Affected
product
groups


Import from the world Number of reported NTM cases


Import
value in


2009
(US$ ’000)


Share of
product
in the


sector’s
import
value*


Technical
require-
ments


Conformity
assess-


ment


Pre-
shipment


inspection
and other
formalities


Charges,
taxes and


other
para-tariff
measures


Quantity
control


measures
Finance


measures
Sub-
total


Metal, basic
manufacturing
and non-
electric
machinery


1,456,755 47.53% 1 4 7 10 1 5 28


Wood, wood
products and
paper


287,570 9.38% 1 4 - - - - 5


Electronics,
computers
and telecoms


524,380 17.11% - 4 3 6 5 - 18


All remaining
manufacturing
products


796,471 25.98% 2 3 - 2 1 - 8


Total 3,065,176 100.0% 4 15 10 18 7 5 59


Source: ITC survey on NTMs and ITC calculations based on Trade Map data.


*Total import value of other manufacturing products is US$ 3,065,176,000.
Note: In order to facilitate understanding of the table above, product groupings condense highly disaggregated product-level
information. By construction, the share of affected products in the sector’s total export value therefore adds up to 100%; this does not
imply that all trade is actually affected by NTMs.


Table 33: Other manufacturing products imports: burdensome NTMs applied by partner
countries


Affected product groups


Import from the world Number of reported NTM cases


Import value in
2009


(US$ ’000)


Share of product
group in the sector’s


import value*


Licensing
or permit to


export


Sub-
total


Partner country
applying the


measures


Electronics, computers and
telecoms 524,380 17.11% 3 3 Singapore (3)


Total 524,380 17.11% 3 3


Source: ITC survey on NTMs and ITC calculations based on Trade Map data.


*Total import value of other manufacturing products is US$ 3,065,176,000.
Note: In order to facilitate understanding of the table above, product groupings condense highly disaggregated product-level
information. By construction, the share of affected products in the sector’s total export value therefore adds up to high percentages;
this does not imply that all trade is actually affected by NTMs.


6.5.1. Conformity assessment, licensing
and pre-shipment inspections


Several electrical and computer equipment importers
complain about problems with certification at the SLSI, and
in the case of telecommunication equipment about the
Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka
(TRC). These include delays (up to 6 months), costs and
also difficulties in providing appropriate samples or
repetitive testing of every shipment. The same certification
and testing issue also holds for the Cosmetics, Devices


‘[There are] documentation problems: the
Telecom Regulatory Commission wants too
many documents, so the process of importing
becomes burdensome  they need licences
obtained for every shipment, though it is the
same item that is being imported.’  
A Sri Lankan importer of telecommunication
equipment (ITC survey on NTMs)




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


74 MAR-11-207.E


and Drugs (CDD) certification under the CDD Act,105 which was reported for medical equipment. Domestic
private-sector testing facilities are scarce and are even reported to be both more expensive and more time-
consuming than governmental institutions. Outsourcing to international testing institutions would further
increase costs and delays.


A similar burden is faced directly at the border when imported goods are apparently excessively inspected.
Such physical controls of cargo particularly affect products containing chemicals, jewellery and electronics.


6.5.2. Charges, taxes and other para-tariff measures


Apart from tariffs, which are already rather high in the segment of final goods, further charges and taxes
appear to be a significant impediment to imports. While customs
surcharges should have been eliminated by June 2010, cess rates by the
EDB and the NBT for firms exceeding a quarterly turnover of Rs 650,000
(US$ 5,800) remain applicable to many products.106 While the cess is
supposed to be exempted for producers that use the imported product as
an input for later exports according to the TIEP scheme, claiming this
benefit appears to be a major bureaucratic obstacle for many firms. The
same administrative procedures problem also occurs when firms attempt
to obtain VAT reimbursements according


to the SVAT scheme. The increase of the NBT from 1% to 3% in 2009 is
also felt to be significant.


In general, the structure, lack of transparency and sheer number of
different charges and taxes cause confusion, especially for SMEs.


6.6. Procedural obstacles and an inefficient trade-related business environment
Across all trade operations, exports (see table 34) and imports (see table 35), delays in any kind of
administrative procedure are felt to be the most outstanding burden for firms. This is followed by informal
payments and other arbitrary or inconsistent behaviour of officials. In most cases, even in export
transactions, Sri Lanka Customs and Port Authorities are held responsible for these delays. So far, the
survey results on POs and an inefficient TBE are very similar to most other evaluated sectors. However, a
large number of other domestic institutions that have a specific stake in the respective products are also
involved: Forest Authority, SLSI, CDD Authority and the TRC, are mentioned several times. While such
obstacles do not refer to an explicit policy per se, they are often related to an inefficient and poor
implementation of policies. It therefore does not come as a surprise that these institutions are responsible
for the testing and certification of many aforementioned conformity assessment regulations.


In the case of imports, the overall geographical distribution of POs and inefficient TBE between domestic
authorities and partner countries is matched by where the NTM is imposed. This is different for exports:
While 91% of NTMs were reported as imposed by the partner country, 81% of obstacles were experienced
domestically. Taking the recurring example of a conformity requirement as the partner’s NTM, delays and
costs caused by domestic testing and certification facilities then constitute the PO.


6.7. Summary and policy options
The products subsumed under the ‘other manufacturing’ sector include electronics, computers, transport
equipment, basic manufacturing and machinery. They account for 13% of Sri Lanka’s manufacturing
exports, but are mostly imported. Many of these manufacturing goods are important direct inputs and
investment goods for sectors of domestic production, exports and services.



105 Available online at:
http://www.lawnet.lk/section.php?file=http://www.lawnet.lk/docs/statutes/leg_enact_1981/indexes/1981Y17V545C.html (accessed on
24 March 2011).
106 WTO (2010).


‘Because of the tax, duty and
charges in the customs,
product cost is very high.’  
A Sri Lankan exporter of
industrial equipment (ITC
survey on NTMs)


‘Hidden taxes have to be paid
to the customs.’  
A Sri Lankan importer of metals
(ITC survey on NTMs)




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 75


On the export side, Sri Lankan firms mostly struggle with technical measures and additional charges that
are predominantly imposed by developed countries, but also India. In the latter case such issues can be
addressed bilaterally within the framework of ISFTA or the pending CEPA. With partners like the European
Union, Japan or the United States this is likely to be more difficult, yet bilateral mutual recognition
agreements (MRAs) could be realized or brought to the WTO in critical cases. However, another part of the
complaints refer to obstacles within domestic borders: exporting firms lament export inspections and
licensing requirements that entail excessive documentation and delays. Furthermore, as equally
encountered for imports and in other sectors, problems at Customs and Ports were frequently reported.
These mostly refer to delays, inconsistencies with respect to product classification or even bribery.
Expanding electronic customs systems, enforcing the use of X-ray machines for inspections, and training
of officials were proposed as a way forward. These findings highlight that, even if foreign trade policies
cannot be influenced in favour of Sri Lankan exporters, a large potential for trade facilitation exists in
streamlining domestic institutions and infrastructure.


Table 34: Other manufacturing products exports: procedural obstacles and inefficient
trade-related business environment


POs and inefficient TBE
Number of PO/TBE cases that occurred


…in Sri Lanka (and agencies
involved, if specified)


…in partner
countries


Sub-
total


Delay in administrative procedures 17+3t
Customs, Forest Authority,
Chamber of Commerce,
Dept. of Inland Revenue,
Port Authorities


1+2t EU (2t), India 23


Inconsistent classification of products 9+2t Customs, Port Authorities 11


Informal payment, e.g. bribes 10 Customs, Forest Authority 10


Unusually high fees and charges 1 3+1
t


EUt, India,
Maldives,
Singapore


5


Lack of recognition e.g. of national
certificates



4


EU (3),
Australia 4


Low security level for persons and goods 3 Customs 3


Large number of different documents 3 Customs 3


Inconsistent or arbitrary behaviour of
officials 3


Customs, Dept. of
Commerce 3


Information is not adequately published and
disseminated 2 Customs, BOI 2


Delay during transportation 2 2


Technological constraints, e.g. information
and communications technologies (ICT) 2 Customs 2


Limited/inappropriate facilities 1t Port Authorities 1


Large number of checks 1 Customs 1


Other obstacles 3 Customs, Port Authorities 4 EU (3), Australia 7


Total 62 15 77


Source: ITC survey on NTMs.
t POs/TBE reported by trading agents are marked by t, all other obstacles were reported by producing companies.




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


76 MAR-11-207.E


Table 35: Imports of other manufacturing products: procedural obstacles and inefficient
trade-related business environment


POs and inefficient TBE
Number of PO/TBE cases that occurred


…in Sri Lanka (and agencies
involved, if specified)


…in partner
countries


Sub-
total


Delay in administrative procedures 55


Customs, Ministry of Defence,
Chamber of Commerce, Ministry of
Health, SLSI, Port Authorities,
Dept. of Inland Revenue, Ministry
of Finance, Ceylon Petroleum
Corporation


3
China,
Hong Kong SAR,
Singapore


58


Inconsistent or arbitrary behaviour of
officials 36


Customs, National Gem and
Jewellery Authority, Dept. of
Commerce, Customs,
Telecommunication Regulatory
Commission, Port Authorities


36


Informal payment, e.g. bribes 31 Customs, Port Authorities 31


Inconsistent classification of products 24 Customs 24


Low security level for persons and
goods 17 Customs, Port Authorities 17


Large number of checks 15 Customs 15


Unusually high fees and charges 9 Customs, Chamber of Commerce, Port Authorities 9


Limited/inappropriate facilities 8 Customs, Port Authorities, SLSI 8


Technological constraints, e.g. ICT 8 Customs, Port Authorities 8


Large number of different documents 7 Customs, CDD 7


Documentation is difficult to fill out 5 Telecom Regulatory Commission, Customs 5


Delay during transportation 3 1 India 4


No due notice for changes in procedure 3 Customs 3


Information is not adequately published
and disseminated 2 Customs, Sri Lankan Airlines 2


Regulations change frequently 2 Customs 2


No advance binding ruling procedure 1 Port Authorities 1


No dispute settlement procedure 1 Customs 1


Lack of recognition e.g. of national
certificates 1 CDD, SLSI 1


Other obstacles 11 Customs 11


Total 239 4 243


Source: ITC survey on NTMs.





SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 77


Looking at the large import sector, firms report problems with certification, inspections and licensing
procedures imposed by Sri Lankan authorities. Even where NTM policies, particularly standards and
technical regulations, are reasonable or necessary, their practical implementation is of paramount concern.
In this respect, a remarkable result of the survey is that underlying standards or technical requirements
barely seem to be the problem, but rather the process of demonstrating compliance. Recurring critiques
were directed at the domestic institutions that both define standards and provide respective certificates and
licenses: in particular the SLSI, the TRC, the Cosmetics, Devices and Drugs Authority and the Forestry
Ministry. The predominant role of the SLSI as a focal point for most certification procedures was regarded
as a bottleneck for many production and trade operations. Therefore, a mismatch between the defined
requirements, albeit oriented at international standards, and actual capacities at the procedural level is
evident from the survey results. Investing in domestic testing and certification infrastructure to minimize
unwanted frictions for export and import operations should thus be highly beneficial for domestic
enterprises.


Another frequently mentioned concern of firms was the number of charges and taxes on imports. Apart
from customs tariffs, several other charges are levied: VAT, PAL, a cess by the EDB and the Nation
Building Tax (only for large firms). Until recently, additional surcharges were imposed. Firms were not only
troubled by the total amount of taxes, which in some cases doubles the overall fee as compared to the
actual tariff, but also by a lack of information about them. Similarly, benefitting from the numerous
exemptions and reimbursements schemes in favour of exporting firms, such as the Temporary Importation
for Export Processing, cess exemption and Duty Rebate Scheme, seems to be very difficult for SMEs due
to lack of awareness and cumbersome registration requirements. Lifting the surcharges as per June 2010
was a first notable step towards simplifying the structure of taxes and charges. Going further in this
direction, essentially coupled with information and awareness campaigns, could improve the economic
performance of manufacturing firms, especially SMEs. Also, converting these so-called ‘hidden’ taxes into
a clear-cut structure of regular tariffs is likely to achieve transparency and facilitate business operations.




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


78 MAR-11-207.E


Conclusions


Non-tariff measures (NTMs) have become a principal concern in international trade. Although arguably
imposed for legitimate reasons in many cases, NTMs often have a negative effect on trade. Due to their
diverse nature and complexity, NTMs are notoriously difficult to evaluate. This lack of transparency also
tends to aggravate the impact on the business sector. This survey reviews the essential business
perspective and increases the understanding of the issues at stake. Expanding the scope beyond NTMs
towards procedural obstacles and inefficiencies of the trade-related business environment provides an
even richer picture. The combined assessment of policy and implementation delivers the essential basis
for further evaluation of welfare effects and government action.


The survey reveals that both exports and imports are strongly affected by NTMs and other obstacles to
trade. Trade of raw and processed agricultural commodities tends to be slightly more affected than
manufacturing goods. While NTMs could be identified on the side of partner countries, an outstanding
result of the survey is that many obstacles occur domestically in Sri Lanka. As opposed to import tariffs
levied by a partner country on all exporters, domestic costs of NTMs and other obstacles cannot be passed
on to the consumer in competitive markets. Similarly, additional costs on the import of inputs for domestic
production and subsequent export have an equivalent effect. In addition to addressing trade policies with
foreign partners, it is therefore also crucial to minimize any unnecessary costs and frictions at home.


Technical requirements, conformity assessment and rules of origin


Technical requirements are mostly applied by the importing country, thus Sri Lanka’s partners when
exporting and Sri Lanka’s own authorities when importing. In some cases, the standards demanded in
important markets like the European Union and the United States were found to be difficult to comply with.
Sri Lankan requirements on their imports are generally oriented at international standards. These are both
defined and implemented by the SLSI, the national body of International Organization for Standardization
(ISO), complemented by sector specific entities like the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission
(TRC), Cosmetics, Devices and Drugs (CDD) or the Forestry Authority. In the majority of cases
surrounding export and import technical regulations, however, businesses state that compliance with the
requirement itself tends to be only a minor problem. The greater burden is demonstrating conformity with
the underlying technical requirement.


First of all, firms report facing a bottleneck in domestic technical testing and certification facilities. As the
national focal point for these tasks, the SLSI has been subject to considerable criticism from the business
sector. Delays and costs of procedures were lamented most of all, along with a lack of some testing
methods that need to be outsourced internationally and problems with recognition of certificates by buyers
in developed countries. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) implemented a
number of successful projects on Sri Lanka’s technical facilities between 1999 and 2007, significantly
improving capacities and the number of clients served. Still, with a continuous rapid growth of demand for
technical testing and certification, further efforts are required. The SLSI also confirmed a need for funds to
satisfy the large demand and to expand services. Increased government investment into technical testing
and certification infrastructure is likely to achieve a significant trade promotion effect. It seems
commendable to focus on mandatory standards in the largest developed markets before moving on to
smaller markets and private standards.


A similar matter is reported with respect to rules of origin. Benefitting from preferential trade agreements
with large markets, such as the GSP and the temporarily suspended GSP+, requires certificates of origin
that many exporters find hard to obtain. In the clothing sector especially, the rules of origin cause problems
due to high shares of imported inputs in the final product. However, as for technical measures, there are
many cases where getting the certificate of origin is more of a burden than complying with the underlying
rules of origin. Efforts should be made to increase efficiency and cut lead times in the respective
institutions. Besides, it should be kept in mind that preferences are likely to be eroded in the medium or
long term. Unsustainable market concentration due to preferential market access should therefore be
reduced.





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Additional charges and incentive schemes for imported inputs


A second cross-cutting burden includes a number of charges and taxes in addition to regular customs
duties. Export cesses are levied by the Sri Lanka EDB, Tea Boards and Coconut Development Authority.
When importing, the EBD cess, PAL, NBT and SRL are applied. These levies have a clear designation to
finance specific domestic development promotion activities, but are still felt to be problematic for business
performance in several cases. Apart from the actual financial burden, the sheer number of levies is
reported to be confusing, even perceived as ‘hidden taxes’, and complicating business planning. In this
light, it becomes doubtful whether a system of earmarking tax revenues has benefits worth the business
costs of such a complex regime of levies. A reasonable step forward, even if fiscal revenues from taxes
need to be maintained, would be a simplification of the structure of charges. For imports, a conversion of
charges and taxes into regular customs duties would be the most transparent solution.


Additional taxes also affect import sectors that are crucial in the value chain of domestic production: major
examples are textiles as inputs for the clothing industry, chemicals for agricultural production, and a variety
of manufactures as investment goods across sectors. Indeed these interconnections are evidently
recognized and actively tackled by policymakers. Several schemes are in place to relieve firms that need
inputs for processing and subsequent export. The TIEP I and TIEP IV, Duty Rebate Scheme, Manufacture
in Bond scheme and, currently, the SVAT should implement reimbursements, exemptions and rebates
from duties and other charges. However, many firms complain about extensive paperwork and other costly
administrative burdens to register for the respective schemes. While already being most strongly affected
by such fixed costs, SMEs are also said to be lacking awareness of the schemes. Extensive delays can
also cause severe disruptions in business financing. Again, simplification efforts, administrative
streamlining and information campaigns could offer a potential for export promotion.


Procedural obstacles, trade-related infrastructure and private standards


While the aforementioned government-imposed NTMs entailed related specific POs in testing
infrastructure and administration, several obstacles and inefficiencies of the TBE that were repeatedly
mentioned are unrelated to particular policies. Given that these obstacles therefore affect all trade
operations, irrespective of sector and direction of trade, considerable attention should be paid to them.


Customs and Port Authorities are the most reported agencies in this respect. Firstly, complaints about
inspections referred to very long delays, especially if several government agencies are involved, and
sometimes to damaged cargo due to manual examinations. An initiative that requires all relevant agencies
to be represented at the same time for a ‘single inspection’, combined with training of officials, may
alleviate frictions at Customs and Ports. Furthermore, in order to avoid damages to cargo, the use of
existing X-ray machines for inspections should be increased and investments into additional modern
technology may be considered.


Secondly, with manual procedures being slow, companies expressed a need for improved electronic
customs systems, adding that the EDI and the Direct Trader Input Facility in the Sri Lanka customs (DTI)
were not fully operational and cost additional fees. In a related matter, customs paperwork is felt to consist
of too many documents, often from several different authorities. Furthermore, companies complained
about a general lack of cargo handling capacities and insufficient opening hours, which not only resulted in
delays but also in high demurrage. Customs officials were also accused of inconsistent classification and
valuation of products, and even bribery. Since all trade operations are affected by these obstacles, a
further effort in the direction of improved customs infrastructure, simplified documentation and capacity
building of officials is likely to facilitate trade. Apart from directly trade-related infrastructure, domestic
transport in the form of roads and railroads also seems to need rebuilding.


Another group of problems is affecting firms in their direct relationship with business partner companies,
with respect to terms of payment and voluntary standards. Where Sri Lanka is competing with other
exporters for large buyers in developed countries, usually only the least favourable terms of payment, i.e.
letter of credit or deferred payment against acceptance, can be negotiated for exporters. While a direct
government intervention is hardly feasible here, strengthening the Sri Lanka Export Credit Insurance
Corporation and implementing the envisaged setting up of an export/import bank may help the business
sector’s trade financing.




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Voluntary private standards may also become compulsory de-facto in reaction to market developments. An
example of this is labour standards. To avoid direct competition with dominant mass producers like
Bangladesh and China, a focus on quality and higher standards to find a niche in European Union and
United States markets has proven successful so far. Combining the voluntary Garments Without Guilt
initiative in Sri Lanka’s clothing industry with government efforts in the same direction continues to be a
promising way forward, irrespective of whether or not GSP+ preferences can be reinstated. Organic
agricultural products only represent a small share in Sri Lanka’s current markets, but it should be noted
that a lack of recognition of Sri Lanka’s domestic organic standards in the European Union is an
impediment to further development in this segment.


Levels of government intervention


There is potential for government action on several levels. At the multilateral stage, Sri Lanka should
continue its current efforts in the World Trade Organization Doha Round to promote market access and
trade facilitation, and raise concerns about discriminatory restrictions and standards. The bilateral and
regional level of trade agreements is also crucial for addressing NTMs. Priorities should be the largest
markets in the European Union and the United States, but also regional partner countries, particularly
India, which appears relatively more difficult with regard to NTMs. As the major burdens, technical
requirements and conformity assessment need to be addressed. Apart from seeking tariff preferences in
trade agreements, it is therefore important to focus on NTMs, for example through Mutual Recognition
Agreements (MRAs) of standards and certifications. This approach may be more promising in regional
partnerships. In chronological order, regional trade agreements starting from the ISFTA, over PSFTA and
APTA to the SAFTA did indeed contain increasingly specific language on NTMs. Renegotiations of NTM
provisions, as conducted in the case of the CEPA with India, are an important step forward and should
contain an emphasis on NTMs.


However, a highly significant and promising venue of policies for trade promotion is domestic. Trade
facilitation for exports and imported inputs can be achieved by means of strengthening domestic testing
and certification facilities, simplifying tax structure and exemption schemes as well as administrative
procedures, investing in customs and ports infrastructure, and capacity building of officials. In order to
define specific implementation strategies, public-private partnerships between high-level government and
business sector representatives may lead the way forward. A committee could consist of officials from the
Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Finance and Planning, Plantations Ministry, SLSI, EDB, sector
institutions like the Sri Lanka Tea Board, Central Bank, and business stakeholders, possibly led by the
Chamber of Commerce. Subgroups of the committee may elaborate approaches and costs of
implementation within their area of expertise. Priorities and actions to be taken could then be decided in
the main committee. Eliminating identified obstacles to trade could play a significant role in achieving the
goals outlined in Sri Lanka’s development plan, the Mahinda Chintana.





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Appendix I Global methodology of the non-tariff measure surveys


Non-tariff measure surveys


From 2008 to 2010,107 the International Trade Centre (ITC) completed large-scale company-level surveys
on burdensome non-tariff measures and other barriers to trade (NTM surveys hereafter) in 10 developing
and least-developed countries on all continents.108 In 2011 the NTM surveys will be launched in 10
countries. The main objective of the NTM survey is to capture how businesses perceive burdensome
NTMs and other obstacles to trade at a most detailed level – by product and partner country.


All surveys are based on a global methodology consisting of a core part and a country-specific part. The
core part of the NTM survey methodology, described in this appendix is identical in all survey countries,
enabling cross-country analyses and comparison. The country-specific part allows flexibility in addressing
the requirements and needs of each participating country. The country-specific aspects and the
particularities of the survey implementation in Sri Lanka are covered in chapter 2 of this report.


Scope and coverage of the non-tariff measure surveys


The objective of the NTM survey requires a representative sample allowing for the extrapolation of the
survey result to the country level. To achieve this objective, the NTM survey covers at least 90% of the
total export value of each participating country (excluding minerals and arms). The economy is divided into
13 sectors, and all sectors with more than a 2% share in total exports are included in the survey.


The NTM Survey sectors are defined as follows:


1. Fresh food and raw agro-based products
2. Processed food and agro-based products
3. Wood, wood products and paper
4. Yarn, fabrics and textiles
5. Chemicals
6. Leather
7. Metal and other basic manufacturing
8. Non-electric machinery
9. Computers, telecommunications; consumer electronics
10. Electronic components
11. Transport equipment
12. Clothing
13. Miscellaneous manufacturing



107 The work started back in 2006, when the Secretary-General of UNCTAD (United Nations Commission on Trade and Development)
established the Group of Eminent Persons on Non-Tariff Barriers (GNTB). The main purpose of GNTB is to discuss definition,
classification, collection and quantification of non-tariff barriers – to identify data requirements, and consequently advance
understanding of NTMs and their impact on trade. To carry out the technical work of the GNTB, a Multi-Agency Support Team
(MAST) was also set up. Since then, the ITC is advancing the work on NTMs in three directions. First, ITC has contributed to the
international classification of non-tariff measures (NTM classification) that was finalized in October 2009. Second, ITC undertakes
NTM Surveys in developing countries using the NTM classification. Third, ITC, UNCTAD and the World Bank jointly collect and
catalogue official regulations on NTMs applied by importing markets (developed and developing). This provides a complete picture of
NTMs as official regulations serve as a baseline for the analysis, and the surveys identify the impact of the measures on enterprises,
and consequently, on international trade.
108 The first NTM surveys were carried out in cooperation with UNCTAD in 2008–2009 in Brazil, Chile, India, the Philippines, Thailand,
Tunisia and Uganda. The pilot surveys provided a wealth of materials allowing to significantly improve both the NTM classification and
the NTM survey methodology. Since then, ITC has implemented NTM surveys based on the new methodology in Burkina Faso, Hong
Kong SAR, Peru and Sri Lanka.




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Companies trading arms and minerals are excluded. The export of minerals is generally not subject to
trade barriers due to a high demand, and the specificities of trade undertaken by large multinational
companies. The export of arms is out of the scope of ITC activities.


The NTM surveys are undertaken among companies exporting and importing goods. Companies trading
services are excluded, as a survey on NTMs in services would require a different approach and
methodology. Yet, the NTM Survey includes companies specialized in the export-import process and
services, such as agents, brokers, forwarding companies (referred to as ‘trading agents’ for brevity). These
companies can be viewed as service companies, as they provide trade logistics services. The answers
provided by trading agents are in most cases analysed separately from the answers of the companies that
export their own products.


The NTM surveys cover legally registered companies of all sizes and types of ownership. Depending on
country size and geography, one to four geographic regions with high concentrations of economic activities
(high number of firms) are included in the sample.


Two-step approach


The representatives of the surveyed companies, generally export/import specialists or senior-level
managers, are asked to report trade-related problems experienced by their companies in the preceding
year and representing a serious impediment for their operations. To identify companies that experience
burdensome NTMs, the survey process consists of phone screens with all companies in the sample (step
1) and face-to-face interviews undertaken only with the companies that reported difficulties with NTMs
during the phone screens (step 2).


Step 1: Phone screens


The first step includes short phone screen interviews. Phone screens consist of questions identifying the
main sector of activity of the companies and the direction of trade (export or import). The respondents are
then asked whether their companies have experienced burdensome NTMs. If a company does not report
any issues with NTMs, the phone screen is terminated. Companies that report difficulties with NTMs are
invited to participate in an in-depth face-to-face interview, and the time and place for this interview is
scheduled before terminating phone screen.


Step 2: Face-to-face interviews


The second-step interviews are required to obtain all the details of burdensome NTMs and other obstacles
at the product and partner country level. These interviews are conducted face-to-face due to the
complexity of the issues related to NTMs. Face-to-face interactions with experienced interviewers helps to
ensure that respondents correctly understand the purpose and the coverage of the survey, and accurately
classify their responses in accordance with predefined categories.


The questionnaire used to structure face-to-face interviews consists of three main parts. The first part
covers the characteristics of the companies: number of employees, turnover and share of exports in total
sales, whether the company exports their own products or represents a trading agent providing export
services to domestic producers.


The second part is dedicated to exporting and importing activities of the company, with all trade products
and partner countries recorded. During this process, the interviewer also identifies all products affected by
burdensome regulations and countries applying these regulations.


During the third part of the interview, each problem is recorded in detail. A trained interviewer helps
respondents identify the relevant government-imposed regulations, affected products (6-digit level of the
Harmonized System), the partner country exporting or importing these products, and the country applying
the regulation (it can be partner, transit or home country).


Each burdensome measure (regulation) is classified according to the NTM classification, an international
taxonomy of NTMs, consisting of over 200 specific measures grouped into 16 categories (see appendix II).




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The NTM classification is the core of the survey, making it possible to apply a uniform and systematic
approach to recording and analysing burdensome NTMs in countries with very idiosyncratic trade policies
and approaches to NTMs.


The face-to-face questionnaire captures not only the type of burdensome NTMs, but also the nature of the
problem (so called procedural obstacles explaining why measures represent an impediment), the place
where each obstacle takes place, and the agencies involved, if any. For example an importing country can
require the fumigation of containers (NTM applied by the partner country), but fumigation facilities are
expensive in the exporting country, resulting in a significant increase in export costs for the company (POs
located in the home country). The companies can also report generic problems not related to any
regulation, but affecting their export or import, such as corruption and lack of export infrastructure. These
issues are referred to as problems related to business environment (see appendix III).


Local survey company


Both phone screens and face-to-face interviews are carried out by a local partner selected through a
competitive bidding procedure. The partner is most often a company specializing in surveys. Generally, the
NTM surveys are undertaken in local languages. The phone screens are recorded either by a Computer
Assisted Telephone Interview system, computer spreadsheets, or on paper. The face-to-face interviews
are initially captured using paper-based interviewer-led questionnaires that are then digitalized by the
partner company using a spreadsheet-based system developed by ITC.


Open-ended discussions


During the surveys of companies and preparation of the report, open-ended discussions are held with
national experts and stakeholders, for example trade support institutions and sector/export associations.
These discussions provide further insights, quality check and validation of the survey results. The
participants review the main findings of the NTM survey and help to explain the reasons for the prevalence
of the certain issues and their possible solutions.


The open-ended discussions are carried out by the survey company, a partner in another local
organization or university, or by graduate students participating in the special fellowship organized in
cooperation with Columbia University (United States).


Confidentiality


The NTM survey is confidential. Confidentiality of the data is paramount to ensure the greatest degree of
participation, integrity and confidence in the quality of the data. The paper-based and electronically
captured data is transmitted to ITC at the end of the survey.


Sampling technique


The selection of companies for the phone screen interviews of the NTM survey is based on the stratified
random sampling. In a stratified random sample, all population units are first clustered into homogeneous
groups (‘strata’), according to some predefined characteristics, chosen to be related to the major variables
being studied. In the case of the NTM surveys, companies are stratified by sector, as the type and
incidence of NTMs are often product-specific. Then simple random samples are selected within each
sector.


The NTM surveys aim to be representative at the country level. A sufficiently large number of enterprises
should be interviewed within each export sector to ensure that the share of enterprises experiencing
burdensome NTMs is estimated correctly and can be extrapolated to the entire sector. To achieve this




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objective, a sample size for the phone screens with exporting companies is determined independently for
each export sector.109


For importing companies, the sample size is defined at the country level. The sample size for importing
companies can be smaller than the sample size for exporters, mainly for two reasons. First, the interviewed
exporting companies are often import intermediaries and provide reports on their experiences with NTMs
as both exporters and importers. Second, problems experienced by importing companies are generally
linked to domestic regulations required by their home country. Even with a small sample size for importing
companies, the effort is made to obtain a representative sample by import sectors and the size of the
companies.


Exporting companies have difficulties with both domestic regulations and regulations applied by partner
countries that import their products. Although the sample size is not stratified by company export
destinations, a large sample size permits a good selection of reports related to various export markets
(regulations applied by partner countries). By design, large trading partner are mentioned more often
during the survey, simply because it is more likely that the randomly selected company would be exporting
to one of the major importing countries.


The sample size for face-to-face interviews depends on the results of the phone screen interviews.


Average sample size


Based on the results of the NTM surveys in 10 countries, the number of successfully completed phone
screens can range from 150 to 1,000, with subsequent 150 to 300 face-to-face interviews with exporting
and importing companies. The number of phone screens is mainly driven by the size and the structure of
the economy, availability and quality of the business register and the response rate. The sample size for
the face-to-face interviews depends on the number of affected companies and their willingness to
participate in the face-to-face interviews.


Survey data analysis


The analysis of the survey data consists of constructing frequency and coverage statistics along several
dimensions, including product and sector, NTMs and their main NTM categories (e.g. technical measures,
quantity control measures), and various characteristics of the surveyed companies (e.g. size and degree of
foreign ownership).


The frequency and coverage statistics are based on ‘cases’. A case is the most disaggregated data unit of
the survey. By construction, each company participating in a face-to-face interview reports at least one
case of burdensome NTMs, and, if relevant, related procedural obstacles and problems with business
environment.



109 The sample size depends on the number of exporting companies per sector and on the assumptions regarding the share of
exporting companies that are affected by NTMs in the actual population of this sector. The calculation of a sample size will be based
on the equation below (developed by Cochran, 1963) to yield a representative sample for proportions in large populations (based on
the assumption of normal distribution).


2


2 1
d


p)*p(tno 
Where


on : Sample size for large populations
t: t-value for selected margin of error (d). In the case of the NTM survey 95% confidence interval is accepted, so t-


value is 1.96.
p:


The estimated proportion of an attribute that is present in the population. In the case of the NTM survey, it is a
proportion of companies that experience burdensome NTMs. As this proportion is not known prior to the survey,
the most conservative estimate leading to a large sample size is employed, that is p=0.5.


d: Acceptable margin of error for the proportion being estimated. In other words, a margin of error that the
researcher is willing to accept. In the case of NTM survey d=0.1.


Source: Cochran, W. G. 1963. Sampling Techniques, 2nd Ed., New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.




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Each case of each company consists of one NTM (a government-mandated regulation, for example
sanitary and phytosanitary [SPS] certificate), one product affected by this NTM, and partner country
applying the reported NTM. For example, if there are three products affected by the very same NTM
applied by the same partner country and reported by one company, the results would include 3 cases. If
two different companies report the same problem, it would be counted as two cases.


The scenario where several partner countries apply the same type of measure is recorded as several
cases. The details of each case (e.g. the name of the government regulations and its strictness) can vary
as regulations mandated by different countries are likely to differ. However, if the home country of the
interviewed companies applies an NTM to a product exported by a company to several countries, the
scenario will be recorded as a single NTM case. Furthermore, when an interviewed company both exports
and imports, and reports cases related to both activities, it is included in the analysis two times: once for
the analysis of exports and once for the analysis of imports. The distinction is summarized in the table
below.


Table: Dimensions of an NTM case


Country applying the measure


Dimensions Home country (where
survey is conducted)


Partner countries (where
goods are exported to or


imported from) and transit
countries


Reporting company X X


Affected product (HS 6-digit code or national tariff line ) X X


Applied NTM (measure-level code from the NTM
classification) X X


Trade flow (export or import) X X


Partner country applying the measure X




Cases of POs and problems with business environment are counted in the same way as NTM cases. The
statistics are provided separately from NTMs, even though in certain instances they are closely related.
(For example, delays can be caused by the pre-shipment inspection requirements). As many of the POs
and problems with business environment are not product-specific, the statistics are constructed along two
dimensions: type of obstacles and country where they occur, as well as agencies involved.


Enhancing local capacities


The NTM surveys enhance national capacities by transmitting skills and knowledge to a local partner
company. ITC does not implement the surveys, but guides and supports a local survey company and
experts in doing this.


Before the start of the NTM survey, the local partner company, including project managers and
interviewers are fully trained on the different aspects of the NTMs, the international NTM classification, and
the ITC NTM survey methodology. ITC representatives stay in the country for the launch of the survey and
initial interviews, and remain in contact with the local partner during the entire duration of the survey,
usually around six months, to ensure a high quality of survey implementation. ITC experts closely follow
the work of the partner company, providing a regular feedback on the quality of the captured data
(including classification of NTMs) and the general development of the survey, helping the local partner to
overcome any possible problems.




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Furthermore, ITC helps to construct a business register (list of exporting and importing companies with
contact details) which remain at disposal of the survey company and national stakeholders. The business
register is a critical part of any company-level survey, but unfortunately it is often unavailable, even in the
advanced developing countries. ITC puts much time, effort and resources into constructing a national
business register of exporting and importing companies. The initial information is obtained with the help of
national authorities and other stakeholders (e.g. sectoral associations). In cases where it is not available
from government sources or a sectoral association, ITC purchases information from third companies, and
in certain cases digitalizes it from paper sources. The information from various sources is then processed
and merged into a comprehensive list of exporting and importing companies.


So, upon completion of the NTM survey, the local partner company is fully capable of independently
implementing a follow-up survey or other company-level surveys, as it is equipped with the business
register and trained on the survey, trade and NTM-related issues.


Caveats


The utmost effort is made to ensure the representativeness and the high quality of the survey results, yet
several caveats must be kept in mind.


First, the NTM surveys generate perception data, as the respondents are asked to report burdensome
regulations representing a serious impediment to their exports or imports. The respondents may have
different scales for judging what constitutes an impediment. The differences may further intensify when the
results of the surveys are compared across countries, stemming from cultural, political, social, economic
and linguistic differences. Furthermore, some inconsistency may be possible among interviewers (e.g.
related to matching reported measures against the codes of the NTM classification) due to the complex
and idiosyncratic nature of NTMs.


Second, in many countries a systematic business register covering all sectors is not available or not
complete. As a result, it may be difficult to ensure random sampling within each sector, and a sufficient rate
of participation in smaller sectors. Whenever this is the case, the survey limitations are explicitly provided
in the corresponding report.


Finally, certain NTM issues are not likely to be known by the exporting and importing companies. For
example, exporters may not know the demand-side constraints behind the borders, e.g. ‘Buy domestic’
campaigns. Furthermore, the scope of the survey is limited to legally operating companies, and does not
include unrecorded trade, e.g. shuttle traders.


After the non-tariff measure survey


The findings of each NTM survey are presented and discussed at a dissemination workshop. The
workshop brings together government officials, experts, companies, donors, non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) and academics. It fosters a dialogue on NTM issues and helps identify possible
solutions to the problems experienced by exporting and importing companies.


The NTM survey results serve as a diagnostic tool for identifying and solving predominant problems. This
can be realized at the national or international level. The survey findings can also serve as a basis for
designing projects to address the problems identified and for supporting fundraising activities.




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Appendix II Non-tariff measure classification


Importing countries are very idiosyncratic in the ways they apply non-tariff measures. This called for an
international taxonomy of NTMs, which was prepared by a group of technical experts from eight
international organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Monetary
Fund, the International Trade Centre, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Industrial
Development Organization, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization. This classification is used
to collect, classify, analyse and disseminate information on NTMs received from official sources, e.g.
government regulations; and for working with perception-based data, e.g. surveys of companies.


The NTM classification differentiates measures according to 16 chapters (denoted by alphabetical letters),
each comprising ‘sub-branches’ (1-digit), ‘twigs’ (2-digits) and ‘leaves’ (3-digits). This classification drew
upon the existing, but outdated, UNCTAD Coding System of Trade Control Measures, and has been
modified and expanded by adding various categories of measures to reflect current trading conditions. The
current NTM classification (see figure below) was finalized in November 2009.


Figure: The structure of the NTM classification


Im
po


rt
m


ea
su


re
s


Technical
measures


Non-
technical
measures


Chapter


A Sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS)
B Technical barriers to trade (TBT)


C Pre-shipment inspection and other formalities


D Price control measures
E Licenses, quotas, prohibition & other quantity control measures


F Charges, taxes and other para-tariff measures
G Finance measures


H Anti-competitive measures


I Trade-related investment measures


P Export-related measures (including export subsidies)


J Distribution restrictions


K Restrictions on post-sales services


L Subsidies (excluding export subsidies)


M Government procurement restrictions


N Intellectual property


O Rules of origin


Export
measures




Chapter A, on sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS), refers to laws, decrees, regulations,
requirements, standards and procedures to protect human, animal or plant life or health from certain risks
such as the establishment or spread of pests, diseases, disease-carrying organisms or disease-causing
organisms; risks from additives, contaminants, toxins, disease causing organisms in foods, beverages or
feedstuffs. Hygienic requirements, fumigation requirements or quarantine are examples. The chapter is
also known as SPS.


Chapter B, on technical barriers to trade (TBT), contains measures referring to the technical specification
of products or production processes and conformity assessment systems thereof. They exclude SPS
measures, but a TBT measure may be applied on food products, if the measure is not for food safety.
Product identity or quality requirements are examples.




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Chapter C, on pre-shipment inspection and other formalities, refers to the practice of checking, consigning,
monitoring and controlling the shipment of goods before or at entry into the destination country.


Chapter D, on price control measures, includes measures implemented to control the prices of imported
articles in order to: support the domestic price of certain products when the import price of these goods is
lower; establish the domestic price of certain products because of price fluctuation in domestic markets, or
price instability in a foreign market; and counteract the damage resulting from the occurrence of ‘unfair’
foreign trade practices.


Chapter E, on licences, quotas, prohibitions and other quantity control measures, includes measures that
restrain the quantity of goods that can be imported, regardless of whether they come from different sources
or from one specific supplier. These measures can take the form of restrictive licensing, fixing of a
predetermined quota, or through prohibitions.


Chapter F, on charges, taxes and other para-tariff measures, refers to measures other than tariffs that
increase the cost of imports in a similar manner, i.e. by a fixed percentage or by a fixed amount. They are
also known as para-tariff measures. Customs surcharges and general sales taxes are examples.


Chapter G, on finance measures, refers to measures that are intended to regulate the access to and cost
of foreign exchange for imports and define the terms of payment. They may increase import costs in the
same manner as tariff measures


Chapter H, on anti-competitive measures, refers to measures that are intended to grant exclusive or
special preferences or privileges to one or more limited groups of economic operators.


Chapter I, on trade-related investment measures, refers to measures that restrict investment by requesting
local content, or requesting that investment be related to export to balance imports.


Chapter J, on distribution restrictions, refers to restrictive measures related to the internal distribution of
imported products.


Chapter K, on restrictions on post-sales services, refers to measures restricting the provision of post-sales
services in the importing country by producers of exported goods.


Chapter L, on subsidies, includes measures related to financial contributions by a government or
government body to a production structure, be it a particular industry or company, such as direct or
potential transfer of funds (e.g. grants, loans, equity infusions), payments to a funding mechanism and
income or price support.


Chapter M, on government procurement restrictions, refers to measures controlling the purchase of goods
by government agencies, generally by preferring national providers.


Chapter N, on intellectual property, refers to measures related to intellectual property rights in trade.
Intellectual property legislation covers patents, trademarks, industrial designs, lay-out designs of integrated
circuits, copyright, geographical indications and trade secrets.


Chapter O, on rules of origin, covers laws, regulations and administrative determinations of general
application applied by the governments of importing countries to determine the country of origin of goods.


Chapter P, on export-related measures, encompasses all measures that countries apply to their exports. It
includes export taxes, export quotas or export prohibitions, among others.




SRI LANKA: COMPANY PERSPECTIVES  AN ITC SERIES ON NON-TARIFF MEASURES


MAR-11-207.E 89


Appendix III Procedural obstacles


List of procedural obstacles related to compliance with non-tariff measures and to
inefficient business environment and infrastructure




A. Administrative burdens


A1. Large number of different documents
(please specify number of documents)


A2. Documentation is difficult to fill out
A3. Difficulties with translation of documents from or into other languages (please


specify language)
A4. Large number of checks (e.g. inspections, checkpoints, weigh bridges – please


specify the number and type of the checks)
A5. Numerous administrative windows/organizations involved


(please specify number / type of involved windows/organizations)


B. Information/transparency issues


B1. Information is not adequately published and disseminated
B2. No due notice for changes in procedure
B3. Regulations change frequently
B4. Requirements and processes differ from information published


C.
Inconsistent or
discriminatory behaviour
of officials


C1. Inconsistent classification of products
C2. Inconsistent or arbitrary behaviour of officials


D. Time constraints


D1. Delay in administrative procedures
(please specify number of days)


D2. Delay during transportation
(please specify number of days)


D3. Deadlines set for completion of requirements are too short
(please specify required time)


E. Payment
E1. Unusually high fees and charges (please specify amount)
E2. Informal payment, e.g. bribes (please specify amount)
E3. Need to hire a local customs agent to get shipment unblocked


F. Infrastructural challenges


F1. Limited/inappropriate facilities
(e.g. storage, cooling, testing, fumigation – please specify)


F2. Inaccessible/limited transportation system
(e.g. poor roads, road blocks – please specify)


F3. Technological constraints, e.g. information and communications technology
(please specify)


G. Security G1. Low security level for persons and goods


H. Legal constraints


H1. No advance binding ruling procedure
H2. No dispute settlement procedure
H3. No recourse to independent appeal procedure
H4. Poor intellectual property rights protection, e.g. breach of copyright, patents,


trademarks, etc.
H5. Lack of recognition, e.g. of national certificates


I. Other I1. Other obstacles (please specify)




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90 MAR-11-207.E


Appendix IV Experts and stakeholders interviewed


Experts and stakeholders who participated in the open-end discussions on non-tariff
measures and related obstacles


Academy for International Trade and Transport


American Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka


Asian Development Bank


Board of Investment of Sri Lanka


Colombo Tea Traders Association


Ceylon Chamber of Commerce


Department of Commerce


Embassy of the United States of America


European Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka


Industrial Technology Institute


Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka


Joint Apparel Association Forum


Lanka Market Research Bureau


National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka


Small and Medium Sector Apparel Industry Association


Sri Lanka Customs


Sri Lanka Export Development Board


Sri Lanka Standards Institution


Sri Lanka Tea Board


World Bank office in Sri Lanka


Private companies in various sectors: 12 open-ended discussions undertaken by graduate students from
the School of International Public Policy of the Columbia University (United States) in addition to the
structured NTM survey interviews realized by LMRB.




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MAR-11-207.E 91


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