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Agri SMEs looking to gain from Europe’s appetite for healthy food choices

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AHK Sri Lanka Chief Delegate Andreas Hergenröther. Pic by Jude Denzil Pathiraja

by Sanath Nanayakkare

Sri Lankan agricultural sector stakeholders and export- oriented SMEs are enthusiastic to showcase their export quality fresh fruits, vegetables and spices at the Fruit Logistica international trade show to be held from February 3-5, 2021 in Berlin.

The German Industry and Commerce Delegation Office in Colombo (AHK Sri Lanka) recently organized a press conference and virtual session to increase awareness in this regard.

The treasurer of the Spice Council of Sri Lanka speaking at the event said that fresh fruits, vegetables and spices are more popular in Europe than ever before which means Sri Lankan agri entrepreneurs should be able to gain from this export trade platform.

“There is a flourishing demand for these items as more and more Europeans are cooking lavish dishes at home in the Covid situation. In this background, Sri Lankan exporters of these commodities have a good opportunity to enhance their visibility in the EU market. The timing is just right. We have our exotic products of high quality which we can display at the Berlin Trade Show, and get the most out of having our presence there. However, we can’t afford to do it on our own because of the cost factor. We are not asking things for free, but if the Agriculture Ministry could chip in with co- funding, our participation at the trade show could become a reality. Anyway, I don’t know if there’s enough time to approve funding for this purpose as the national budget is coming up next month,” he said.

A government agriculture officer who was also part of the webinar said that she would refer the matter to the relevant authorities.

When The Island Financial Review asked how Sri Lanka’s fresh fruits and vegetable exporters can increase their visibility in the European market, Linda Mense (Berlin) Sourcing + Markets Fresh Fruit and Vegetables (Egypt, Ethiopia, Peru, Ukraine) cited Peru as the best example Sri Lanka could take inspiration from. “Peru managed to become prominent in terms of export of fresh fruit to Europe as they had a clear strategy to do so. Peru has come a long way from where it was some 15 years ago. They had a very clear strategy to showcase their fresh produce to the world. They put a lot of effort and also funding into promoting their country pavilion at the Berlin Trade Show, as a result of which Peru has today become one of the most credible and valuable exporting countries for fresh fruits and vegetables in Europe. There’s a lot to learn from Peru’s successful journey in this sphere” she said.

“Moroccan fruits and vegetables are in high demand in Germany. They are certified and fulfill the European standards. They offer different assortment of fruits and vegetables: watermelon, oranges, cantaloupe melon, bell pepper, tomatoes, plum tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, citron, potatoes, onions etc’, AHK Sri Lanka Chief Delegate Andreas Hergenröther told The Island Financial Review.

Europe’s consumers and importers want quality and transparent proof of origin. For this reason Global G.A.P. certification is one of the most important European standards for sustainable production and high food safety which is a must for exporters of fresh fruit and vegetables.

‘Fruit Logistica’ is the world’s leading trade fair for fruits, vegetable and spices attracting more than 3,300 exhibitors from over 90 countries, and more than 72,000 trade visitors from over 135 countries.The trade show offers exhibitors an international platform with total visibility for fresh produce and other agricultural products, while providing opportunity for face-to-face meetings with potential business partners and strengthening existing business relations with suppliers and customers. The trade show in Berlin will also showcase innovative machinery, digitalisation, automation and network technology with special focus on greenhouse technology. During the press conference, AHK Sri Lanka Chief Delegate Andreas Hergenröther highlighted the importance of raising awareness for ‘made in Sri Lanka’ products in international markets, and increasing business opportunities for Sri Lankan fresh fruits and vegetable exporters.

Participating source markets experts pointed out that European consumers are willing to pay extra for sustainable produce and commitment to protecting the environment.


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Unlimited music streaming platform in Sri Lanka

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SLT-Mobitel, the nation’s ICT and Telecommunications Service Provider recently partnered with Spotify, to mark their launch in Sri Lanka. Spotify is a paid premium music streaming app which allows subscribers to listen to music to their hearts content. Both, SLT-Mobitel Post-Paid and Pre-Paid customers will now be able to enjoy Spotify by activating a monthly recurring subscription or one-time subscription plan and access unlimited music streaming and downloading facilities.

The subscription charges will get added to the user’s customary billing, where payment will be deducted in real time. Starting from the payment date, the user will be able to access Spotify and download their favourite songs, for the next 30 days. Users who sign up for their first monthly subscription will receive an additional one month, courtesy of Spotify. The one-month subscription plan is not applicable with one-time subscription plans. SLT-Mobitel data rates, depending on the user’s respective broadband charges, will apply.

Spotify also has some exciting features that will provide SLT-Mobitel customers with the opportunity to listen to ad-free music, access millions of uninterrupted music under one platform, play any song they like, anywhere they go, and also be able to enjoy their music offline.

SLT-Mobitel customers can select their preferred premium package under four categories; Individual, Duo, Family, Student. Each category has recurring and non-recurring plans. After one month of free streaming, the package will activate once the offer period terminates. While both, the Individual and Student premiums are limited to one account user, the Duo package offers two accounts and the Family premium is accessible through six accounts. To view Spotify plans, users can log on to https://spoti.fi/3aLWvce

 

 

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Sri Lanka using ‘sovereign power’ over economy: CB Governor

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

Anyone conversant with the elements of a political economy would know that Sri Lanka is using its ‘sovereign power’ to manage the different dynamics of the economy in a sustainable manner, Professor W. D Lakshman Governor of the Central Bank said on Wednesday.

“Some critics are saying that we adopt a so-called modern monetary theory. That’s not the case. In fact, Sri Lanka is using its sovereign power in a number of economic aspects to honour its external debt repayment commitments as well as to reduce its debt burden in the medium term as well as achieve resilient growth in the medium to long term, he said.

“We make policy decisions to boost our gross foreign reserves, meet our external debt servicing, to facilitate monetary expansion, to boost our GDP growth, to strengthen our current account balance and manage our domestic and external economic variables in a sustainable manner. This is not a modern monetary theory. This is an age-old tool used by central banks around the world when the circumstances demand it, he said.

“Certain trade-offs will be necessary when dealing with an economy which has a big fiscal gap to bridge. There are efforts to push Sri Lanka towards the IMF again which would in turn have influence on our policymaking. We have taken policy measures to stabilize the economy and we have adequate reserve levels to meet our debt repayments. Meanwhile, we are in negotiations with overseas central banks and multilateral agencies to further boost our reserve level and it would materialise within a matter of weeks,” he noted.

“One of the tools the Central Bank has introduced is in respect of repatriation of export proceeds into Sri Lanka and conversion of such proceeds into Sri Lankan rupees in order to strengthen the foreign exchange situation of the country,” he said.

The Governor made these remarks while delivering the keynote speech at a webinar organised by the Veemansa Initiative led by its Managing Director Luxman Siriwardene – the former Executive Director of Pathfinder Foundation.

The webinar revolved round the topic ‘External debt situation in Sri Lanka: Are we heading for a resolution or crisis?’

Professor Sirimal Abeyratne, Prof. Sumanasiri Liyanage, Dr. Nishan de Mel and Dr. Ravi Liyanage were the other speakers on the panel.

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CSE on the rebound; indices close positive

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne 

CSE produced signs of a rebound yesterday with both indices closing positive, though turnover remained low. Central Bank Governor W.D Lakshman’s recent statement on managing foreign reserves gave some boost to the market yesterday, stock market analysts said.

 The index experienced a zigzag movement within the early hours of trading; thereafter, it recorded a slight up-trend as it reached its intraday high of 7,439. Later, the market witnessed a down-trend at mid-day, followed by a sideways movement and closed at 7,372, gaining 43 points during the month of February, market sources said. 

It is said the banking sector dominated turnover with a contribution of considerable  parcel trades in Sampath Bank, Commercial Bank  and HNB.

Further, the Commercial Bank’s impressive quarterly results during the recent turbulent period also built investor  confidence. Commercial Bank was able to register a18 percent net interest income when other banks were reporting a decline. Its share price increased by Rs. 3 or 3.5 percent. On the previous day, its shares started trading at Rs. 85 and at the end of the day they moved up to Rs. 88. Due to the positive growth results, the bank announced a Rs. 4.40 dividend per share, plus a Rs. 2 script divergent for every share.

Further,  Sampath Bank shares also appreciated in both crossing and retail. In crossings its shares appreciated by Rs. 1.At the end of the day they moved up to Rs. 154.50. In the retail market, its shares moved up by Rs. 2 or 1.3 percent. Previously, its shares fetched Rs. 154 and at the end of yesterday they moved up to Rs. 156.  

Amid those developments, both indices moved upwards. The All Share Price Index went up by 104.48 points and S and P SL20 rose by 67.78 points. Turnover stood at Rs. 3 billion with four crossings. Those crossings were reported in Sampath Bank, where 3.9 million shares crossed for Rs. 602.2 million, its share price being Rs. 154.50, HNB 375,000 shares crossed for Rs. 39.4 million, its shares traded at Rs. 105, Pan Asia Power 9.5 million shares crossed for Rs. 33.2 million, its shares traded at Rs. 3.50 and Access Engineering 1.2 million shares crossed for Rs. 28.2 million; its shares traded at Rs. 24.

In the retail market top five companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, Expolanka Rs. 450 million (10 million shares traded), JKH Rs. 205 million (1.3 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs. 199 million (34.9 million shares traded), Sampath Bank Rs. 191 million (1.2 million shares traded) and Dipped Products Rs. 137.7 million (2.8 million shares traded). During the day 101 million share volumes changed hands in 18046 transactions. 

During the day, Expolanka, the biggest contributor to the turnover, saw its share price appreciating by Rs. 6.20 or 15 percent. Its share price quoted on the previous day was Rs. 41 and at the end of trading yesterday it moved up to Rs. 47.

Sri Lanka’s rupee quoted wider at 193.50/195.50 levels to the US dollar in the spot next market on Thursday while bond yields remained unchanged, dealers said. The rupee last closed in the spot market at 194.50/195.00 to the dollar on Wednesday.

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