SL should harmonise standards and prevent trade barriers - Baur & Co CEO

By Rajiesh Seetharam | Published: 2:00 AM Dec 3 2021

By Rajiesh Seetharam

The standard requirements for most Sri Lankan products were different from most countries in the rest of the world, which is creating trade barriers, so said Baur & Co CEO, Rolf Blaser.

Speaking to Ceylon FT, he said “We couldn’t import Johnson Baby Shampoo to Sri Lanka because the Standard requirement in Sri Lanka is different. The same product is available in 190 countries. Sri Lanka is the only country, where the standard is not met. 

Due to the different standard requirements, we are unable to import several products. Also, it is not practical or economical to manufacture locally and export as the standard requirement in other countries is different.” 

This scenario could somewhat benefit a local manufacturer, however it increases costs and it is a loss for the consumer as he has to pay higher prices with few options to choose from, Blaser said.

“We could not import the world’s best quality Swiss brand ‘Trisa’ tooth brush into Sri Lanka. In the Trisa tooth brush, the bristle is very thin, which can easily go in between the teeth, but in Sri Lanka there is a minimum thickness standard for bristles in tooth brushes. So we had to stop importing it. Sri Lanka does not have the best quality tooth brush in the world. Meanwhile, thick bristles in tooth brushes in other countries are considered sub standard. 

There is no point for Sri Lanka in having a different standard for tooth brushes, when most other countries such as India, EU, USA have similar standards”, he said. 

He added, “At times some products had to be marketed as different products in Sri Lanka. We wanted to import and market one of the best quality jams in Sri Lanka, which is generally available globally in Five Star hotels.  In Sri Lanka, there is a standard, which states that there should be at least 72 milligrams of sugar per kilo. The jam we intended to import had less sugar which is healthy, but does not meet the required Sri Lankan standards. So we had to change the name of the product from Jam to bread spreader, now the product is available under the brand name ‘Hero’.”

Blaser recommended that Sri Lanka should harmonise standards in line with the rest of the world, which would make administration easier, products cheaper, increase trade and give better quality products to the consumer with multiple options. 

“Harmonising standards would cut costs as we don’t need to do extra research, as we can go ahead with globally available data,” he added.

By Rajiesh Seetharam | Published: 2:00 AM Dec 3 2021

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