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Delivering the keynote address at a Briefing Session organized by the Standard and Trade Development Facility (STDF) Division of WTO held on 21st June 2016 to share Sri Lanka’s experience on the Cinnamon Development Project Assistance, R.D.S. Kumararatne, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the World Trade Organization highlighted on how technical and funding assistance from international agencies such as WTO, UNIDO, ITC and WIPO are important for small economies such as Sri Lanka in sustaining performance in the spices sector in the country.

In his keynote speech, Ambassador Kumararatne highlighted the uniqueness of Ceylon Cinnamon, known as true cinnamon or queen of spices is the oldest planting crop in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka supplies over 80% of world Ceylon Cinnamon requirements. Mexico accounts for over 60% of the market while the rest consists of markets such as USA, EU, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, etc. Sri Lanka supplies its cinnamon products to over 70 countries in the world.

He further elaborated on multi-faceted sector development that requires interventions at various levels to achieve targeted social and economic outcomes. Driven by a common vision, “making cinnamon a one billion dollar industry”, The Spice Council (TSC) and the Government of Sri Lanka received support from the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) of WTO and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to analyse the cinnamon value chain and identify the necessary interventions to translate this vision into reality.

The project catalyzed additional assistance by empowering The Spice Council and creating an enabling environment for a strong public-private partnership. To capitalize on, and sustain, the results achieved, the project provided the sector with a roadmap that spell out future actions to “make cinnamon a one billion dollar industry”.

Sarada de Silva, CEO of the recently established Ceylon Cinnamon Academy, outlined the progress on the project and its importance to the industry in the long run to its sustainability and much expected contribution to the economy.

The welcome remark of the Session was made by David Shark, Deputy Director General of WTO.  Ali Badarneh, Project Manager of UNIDO-STDF-TSC project, UNIDO made an overall briefing on the project and their positive experience towards improving, Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in the cinnamon industry facilitating the country’s objective of improving market share for Ceylon cinnamon globally and the positive gain in obtaining Geographical Identification (GI) for the product.

US$ $ 2,130,000 has been contributed for the Project by the Standard and Trade Development Facility (STDF) Division of WTO, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and other sources including the government.

Gabriel Duque, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Colombia to WTO shared with the audience their successful experience in GI and lessons that Sri Lanka could learn from their experience. Mario Matus, Deputy Director General of WIPO highlighted on their technical assistance towards Sri Lanka in the GI process and cost and benefits of such GI recognition for the industry.

This Briefing Session was attended by representatives from WTO Member countries, international agencies i.e. WTO, UNIDO, WIPO, ITC and other agencies based in Geneva.