As a significant step toward international fair trade and global cooperation, Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) as the government representative of Sri Lanka signed the Framework of Cooperation (FOC) with Fair Trade Advocacy office, Fairtrade NAPP Sri Lanka (FNSL), Fairtrade NAPP and World Fair Trade organization Asia in collaboration with 14 other government institutions on 10th January, 2024. This cooperation framework will strengthen and improve relationships between fair trade networks and related government institutions in Sri Lanka. It strives to promote the development, diversification, and wider market access of fairtrade products from Sri Lanka to the global market.

The collaborative framework outlines multiple objectives for collaboration, the terms of the collaborations and paving the way for future advancements through comprehensive action plans. This encompassed diverse aspects of supply chain involving Fairtrade-certified products from Fairtrade International system and Fairtrade Enterprises including the members of World Fair Trade Organization. This covers a wider range of products in the supply chains such as coconut, spices, tea, coffee, processed foods, processed beverages, handicrafts, toys, textiles, ornamental plants/foliage and plants among others.

The event commenced with a welcome speech and the traditional oil lamp lighting ceremony, followed by a keynote address delivered by Dr. Kingsly Bernard, the Chairman/CEO of Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB). A special speech was given by Ms. Thavishya Mullegamgoda, the former Minister (Commercial) of the Sri Lanka Embassy in the European Union. It was succeeded by signing the contract by the signatories. Subsequently, Mr. Sanjeet Khurana, the Executive Director of Fairtrade NAPP, Ms. Virginia Enssle, Manager, International and Institutional Relations, Fair Trade Advocacy office, and Ms. Mitos Urgel, the Board President of World Fair Trade organization Asia, also addressed the audience. The event concluded with a vote of thanks by Mr. R. Gnanasekaran, the Chairman of FNSL, followed by the closure of the ceremony.

In a collaborative effort, this initiative will empower Sri Lankan producers and artisans, facilitating their certification and accreditation in accordance with Fairtrade standards. The collaboration intends to propose recommendations that foster a policy environment conducive to the prosperity of Fair Trade Enterprises and producer organizations. It will raise awareness among Sri Lankan producers to foster a comprehensive understanding of Fair Trade principles and aiding in the identification of potential markets and European buyers. Additionally, the collaboration emphasizes the exchange of information on vital aspects such as European regulations, market studies, product development, and certification processes.

A significant focus lies in providing technical support for Fair Trade standards, certification, and accreditation systems, with NAPP-Sri Lanka and WFTO-Asia taking the lead in coaching and supporting Sri Lankan producers engaged in Fair Trade supply chains. Several activities are planned including awareness sessions, policy recommendations, and both outbound and inbound trade missions. Initiatives like promoting Fair Trade certification, exploring pilot projects in tourist spots, and fostering awareness between European Fair-Trade Towns and Sri Lankan Fair Trade farmer societies are considered integral to the collaboration. It also presents the provisions for future developments.

As articulated by Mr. Sanjeet Khurana, the Executive Director of Fairtrade NAPP, this partnership will open new opportunities for the Fairtrade producers of Sri Lanka in terms of technical support, creation of policies in support of Fairtrade, processing facilities, more trade opportunities among others. We hope that this collaboration (FOC) will encourage the involvement of additional producer groups to reap the benefits of Fairtrade.

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