Major Chinese wholesale association wants SL produ

Sri Lankan Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen (fourth from right), China National Agriculture Wholesale Market Association (CAWA) Chairman Zengjun Ma (fourth from left, with the rest of his delegation to left) and Sri Lanka Director General of Commerce Sonali Wijeratne (far right) after the successful meeting at the Sri Lanka Ministry of Industry and Commerce on 15 October

China’s largest agri wholesale accessory market operator CAWA wants SL produce

A top Chinese delegation plans to increase Sri Lankan agriculture exports to China giving the sector a chance to tap into the massive Chinese sector, the Industry and Commerce Ministry said in a statement yesterday.

“The visit of the China National Agriculture Wholesale Market Association (CAWA) delegation to Sri Lanka opens a huge export opportunity for the Sri Lankan agriculture and fresh produce sector.

We also warmly invite member associations of CAWA to invest as joint ventures in Sri Lanka, transfer the latest technology and partner our Sri Lankan suppliers,” said Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen.

Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the visiting CAWA delegation led by CAWA Chairman Zengjun Ma. CAWA is a national industry association approved by the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs. Minister Bathiudeen was joined by Sri Lanka Director General of Commerce Sonali Wijeratne and many other Department of Commerce (DoC) officials.

CAWA’s International Commissioner Jingjie Kong said: “CAWA has members in all provinces and municipalities across China accounting for 70% of the national wholesale from china total, which means we have an even bigger presence in China’s retail sector. All of the top 200 wholesale markets in China are members of CAWA. The CAWA managed annual wholesale turnover within China exceeds China Yuan 10 billion or $ 1.4 trillion, which is 70% of the national wholesale total.”

“We are impressed with Sri Lankan fresh produce. As a result we are looking for trade and agriculture cooperation with Sri Lanka,” said CAWA Chairman Ma.

“Not only is the taste of Sri Lankan produce better but also due to European Union standard compliance, the quality of Sri Lankan produce is very high. The Department of Commerce has shown us some fresh produce such as coconut water and kernel processing in Sri Lanka and we are impressed due to their in-depth reach. Many such processing activities taking place in China are not so in-depth nor multi-level. It is very clear that Sri Lankan agriculture and fresh produce supplies can clearly expand in the huge Chinese market due to the competitive pricing of Lankan products, features such as good taste, higher quality and uniqueness.

“We are also impressed by the DoC-organised supplier meetings within Colombo with such institutions as the Coconut Development Authority and Seafood Exporters’ Association of Sri Lanka (SEASL). The Chinese consumer market is expanding in a big way and we suggest preparing a good, dynamic pricing strategy for Lankan suppliers to China to win in our market. We invite an official DoC delegation to China with Lankan suppliers for B2B matchmaking. China has high-level seafood processing technology that Sri Lanka can make use of.”

Minister Bathiudeen thanked Chairman Ma for his interest in Sri Lankan supplies, adding: “We are also interested in a buyback system by Chinese buyers on our agri-produce. This will also enhance our exports and total trade with China.”

According to DoC officials, Sri Lanka’s total trade with China increased by 3% last year to $ 4.6 billion from 2016’s $ 4.47 billion. For the first time, last year’s Lankan exports to China too showed a huge jump – doubling for the first time. This is an increase of 108% to $ 415 million (in 2017) from 2016’s $ 199 million.

This is the first time in a decade that Sri Lankan exports to China have doubled. Last year’s leading Lankan exports to China were ships and boats, apparel, Ceylon Tea and vegetable textile fibres. Interestingly, no significant exports of Lankan fresh produce to China was seen for 2016 and 2017 -showing a huge untapped market awaiting in China for Lankan fresh produce. Imports from China to Sri Lanka declined by 2% in 2017 to $ 4.19 billion. This is the first decline in imports from China to Sri Lanka since 2011.

During the 15 October meeting, Minister Bathiudeen also instructed his DoC team to commence work on scheduling a strong Sri Lankan supplier delegation to meet CAWA members in China.