The use of Information Technology (IT) in trade facilitation has received considerable attention in policy circles given its potential to reduce costs involved in trading goods across borders. Sri Lanka too has automated its import/export processes, albeit partially. With special focus on automation of the customs clearance process, the study examines the extent to which automation of trade facilitation has taken place in Sri Lanka and the impact it has had on SME exporters of the country. The study includes the results of a small survey that was carried out to capture a number of issues including the extent to which traders/agents use the electronic (EDI) system in Sri Lanka, the adjustments they had to make in adapting to it, and the costs and benefits stemming due to the electronic system. The survey showed that although the SME traders and agents surveyed were aware about the EDI system, very few use it due to reasons such as the partial implementation of the system as well as the additional cost involved in using it, which has discouraged many traders and agents especially the SME players from lodging the trade related documents electronically. In addition, lack of information on the EDI system and how to access it has hindered its use by the SME sector. The study, which also sheds light on the trading process of Sri Lanka, makes policy recommendations for the relevant stakeholders involved.
By Janaka Wijayasiri, Suwendrani Jayaratne