The Delegation of German Industry and Commerce (AHK Sri Lanka) and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) co-organized a second hybrid conference on “Sustainable Supply Chains as drivers of global competitiveness” on 24th of February. Since September 2020, the two organizations in cooperation with Loening Human Rights and Responsible Business have conducted several trainings, individual gap assessments and covered the preconditions for certifications for Sri Lankan exporters in the sectors of rubber, apparel, and food products. Allproject partners agreed to extend the project to the Sri Lankan tourism sector.
During the opening Chief Delegate of German Industry and Commerce and Industry in Sri Lanka Andreas Hergenroether stated: “The major reason to partner for the initiative is to support Sri Lankan exporters to obtain broader market access and to enable German/European importers to import according to international sustainability standards. Sustainability standards are a reality. They are partially politically driven, but they are also more and more consumer and industry driven. Besides the existing official legally binding standards, European importers require more and more consumer and industry driven standards like Fairtrade, BSCI, SA8000 and IFS”. Country Head for Sri Lanka and Bangladesh of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom Mr. Hubertus von Welck underlined that the initiative “Sustainable supply chains as driver for global competitiveness” has been taken up and is now been extended as a contribution to the restart of the Sri Lankan economy to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic as fast as possible. He emphasised that companies should be open for standards under the UN Guiding Principles and incorporate those in their in-house procedures.
In a video message German Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Holger Seubert pointed out the relevance of the subject with regards to the upcoming Supply Chain Law in Germany. A joint inter-ministerial draft law is to be presented in mid-March to the German parliament. German importers will be under the obligation to continuously verify that their suppliers respect United Nation Guiding Principles (UNGP) of business and human rights. Violations would be sanctioned with penalties up to 10% of the importer’s annual turnover and exclusion from public tenders up to three years.
During the panel discussion with company representatives of the targeted sectors of apparel, food and tourism, panellists stressed how much their businesses are related to consumer driven sustainability requirements and how important the required documentation of UNGPs conform processes is.