UK launches its new Developing Countries Trading Scheme in Sri Lanka

The UK government has held a series of events for its new trade preferences scheme – Developing Countries Trading Scheme in Sri Lanka (DCTS), which is expected to come into effect this year.

In a press release, the British High Commission in Colombo said the new scheme DCTS was designed to grow free and fair trade with 65 countries, including Sri Lanka.
The DCTS intends to create jobs and boost the economies of these countries, the statement read, adding that it offers one of the most generous sets of trading preferences in the world and demonstrates the UK’s commitment to building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with countries like Sri Lanka.

The statement further explained that the DCTS would replace the UK Generalised Scheme of Preferences and will come into force in 2023. Under the scheme, Sri Lanka is eligible for zero tariffs on 92% of products. Over 150 additional products will be brought into scope of the new scheme, including milled grains, pet food products and dairy products.

The main event on the DCTS was attended by Finance State Minister Shehan Semasinghe, Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe and senior officials from the Department of Commerce, Export Development Board (EDB) and the Board of Investment (BOI).

The event has been delivered in partnership with the Council for Business with Britain – the UK-Sri Lanka bilateral trade association.

The UK officials, promoting the DCTS, have showcased high potential value chains and products that can benefit from the new scheme. This was based on research into UK retailers’ and consumers’ buying considerations, as well as insights from Sri Lankan producers, trade programmes and policymakers.

British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Sarah Houlton OBE, commenting in this regard, said the UK’s new DCTS aims to provide Sri Lankan and UK businesses with a fresh opportunity to diversify and deepen supply chains and reduce the cost of exporting to the UK. “We hope businesses will take advantage of the great opportunities we have highlighted through our events this week.”

Meanwhile, UK Minister of State at the Department for Business and Trade, Nigel Huddleston said: ”The Developing Countries Trading Scheme will support businesses by giving them the tools to export duty-free to the UK, opening up markets and boosting consumer choice. We want to go bigger and further with our global trade links and the DCTS enables the UK to achieve this with developing countries.”

In its statement, the British High Commission said, while Sri Lanka exports numerous high value products to the UK including textiles, tea and rubber, there has been a steady decline in trade volumes between Sri Lanka and the UK since 2018. “Under UK trade preferences, Sri Lankan exports will benefit from generous tariff cuts and new products will be brought into scope, facilitating access to the UK market for Sri Lankan businesses across a wide range of industries,” it read further.

During the visit to Colombo, DCTS officials also met the Minister of Trade, Commerce, and Food Security, Hon. Nalin Fernando.

They additionally delivered further information sessions and engagements in partnership with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Department of Commerce, EDB, and BOI, Joint Apparel Association Federation, European Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka, American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Sri Lanka, and Rotary International.

The sessions focused on sharing insights including current trends, UK market purchasing criteria, barriers to trade and what can be done to unlock Sri Lanka’s trade and investment potential. Attendees were also briefed about other key trade-related information including quality certification and customs requirements.