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SL Shippers warn of dire consequences connected to shipping regulations changes

By: Staff writer

Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka Shippers’ Council warns that there to be dire repercussions to be faced, due to continued mockery connected to shipping regulations changes.

The Importers and Exporters are perturbed by the action of the Minister of Ports and Shipping, to rescind the Gazette No. 2041/10 dated 17th October, 2017, which was initially introduced on 27th October, 2013, and has benefited the Importers and exporters immensely over the years.

This piece of legislature has helped importers and exporters from anti-competitive practices which have been carried out by service providers for several years.

The rescinding of the Gazette has created a ripple effect, which will lead to Sri Lanka’s Imports and Exports becoming more expensive due to unethical surcharging, thereby becoming uncompetitive and in turn leading to the loss of its market share in the Global Market.

During the pandemic, the exporters performed exceptionally well with month-on-month increased earnings and helped the government to sustain the economy whilst other industries faced challenges and changing trading practices.

With the rescinding of Gazette No. 2041/10, therein lies the question of whether foreign exchange will flow out of the country illegally due to the possible introduction of zero freight again and surcharges levied on non-contractual parties, simply because, there is no coverage of same, through the law of the land.

By rescinding this Gazette, the Minister of Ports and Shipping has removed the protection of free market competition, while, also eliminating the international good practices where price-fixing is not permitted.

 The recent frequent changes made to shipping regulations in Sri Lanka through a few gazettes have also raised ambiguity and concern among foreign trading partners who are sensitive to policy inconsistencies. With exports being promoted as a solution to the current economic crisis, this is detrimental to attract potential buyers and to maintain current clients.

Gazette No. 2041/10 re-confirmed four cardinal principles to protect both importers and exporters from service providers who may charge exorbitant fees, in addition to freight for the carriage of goods.

Sri Lankan exporters have had a competitive advantage in shipping costs compared to other countries due to this legislation, and removing the same, open them to unwarranted additional costs which will make them more expensive to their peers.

Imports to Sri Lanka will become more expensive after the removal of the legislation, due to the addition of unethical surcharges as in the past (44-line items were charged) and the breaking of freight cost into many parts, which ultimately ends up being charged from non-contracting parties. The result is the rise in inflation and cost of living in the country.

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