In Sri Lanka, USSEC has had two significant landmarks that helped obtain market access for U.S. Soy: the acceptance of genetically modified (GM) soybean meal for use in animal feeds and a zero customs tariff for imports.
In 2008, Dr. Athula Mahamage was appointed as USSEC’s Sri Lanka country representative and his concerted efforts with local influencers and policy makers helped lead to these accomplishments. As a result of this and the continued tech and trade efforts by Dr. Athula, the U.S. Soy industry has enjoyed a steady increase in the soybean meal market share in Sri Lanka. The country imported about 220,000 metric tons (MT) of soy meal in 2015/16, of which 70 percent is U.S. soybean meal.
However, markets change, policies get altered, and government rules are amended. Caught in one such transformation was the reversal of customs duty on soybean meal that was notified by the Sri Lankan Government in November 2016. The duty, which was set at 15 percent, put Dr. Athula and his team (members of the animal husbandry, finance ministry, and trade associations in the livestock and poultry industry) on alert. They worked strategically to bring the duty down to 5 percent in December 2016. As a next step, the team convinced the authorities at the finance ministry on the importance of soybean meal, which supports a growing poultry/animal feed industry in the country and has successfully gotten soybean meal listed in the Gazette Notification as an “exempted item” for customs duty. Competitiveness for U.S. soybean meal entering Sri Lanka was hampered slightly but has been successfully restored back to its original state.
Market access is a priority area for USSEC’s global market reach. Constraints of different natures exist in different countries and some issues may even crop up from nowhere like the one cited here. Continued efforts in this area ensure markets for U.S. Soy.