Boat Building under National Expert Strategy (NES)
Posted on July 31st, 2018

Dr. Sarath Obeysekera

The Government of Sri Lanka today unveiled the National Export Strategy (NES), a blueprint for achieving increased exports, enhanced regional cooperation and job creation. Alongside other national initiatives such as Enterprise Sri Lanka and Vision 2025, the Strategy is an important addition to the country’s development agenda and its goal of becoming a leading Asian export hub driven by innovation and investment. Technical assistance for developing the NES was provided through the EU-Sri Lanka Trade Related Assistance project funded by the European Union.

The five-year Strategy aims to enable Sri Lanka to reach its goal of $28 billion in exports by 2022. It benefits from the input of more than 600 public and private-sector stakeholders across Sri Lanka to reflect their export ambitions.

The Strategy sets out specific priority actions and investments to address competitiveness constraints, modernise regulatory systems for improved efficiency, and boost Sri Lankan industries in order to increase exports. It also sets targets to improve opportunities for Sri Lanka’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and exporters in regional and global trade.

One of the main objective within the proposed in the NES under manufacturing category is development of

Boat Building in Sri Lanka

In order to achieve above NES proposes to

  • To create an enabling environment for boat building industry development by updating regulations and infrastructure by formulating a more flexible investor friendly the regulatory framework for boat building industry and the navigation of recreational craft (registration, use of a boat, safety rules, navigation code, Sri Lanka Customs and port entry/leaving procedures, etc.) to attract visitors navigating the Indian Ocean to visit Sri Lanka or to use repairing/ refuelling services  (based on international regulatory standards).

This can be developed based on global best practice in collaboration with international partners.
Whilst the legislation is being drafted, during this period  action and measures should be taken to support the industry move forward.

  • Adopt a national recreational boat building standards based on internationally recognized technical standards to expand export capacities. National Technical Committee should be established for this.

When are we planning to appoint a National Technical Committee?

  • Allow the issuing of Certificate of Seaworthiness for the fishing boats and the pleasure craft (once a national boatbuilding regulation is adopted) by private conformity assessment body to accelerate the sales process

When are we planning to complete formulation of national boatbuilding regulation ?



  • Appoint an appropriate government agency or department (Ministry of Industry and Commerce) to be responsible for the boat building industry.


When Ministry of Industry and commerce will take over the respionsiblity ?

  • Implement a digitized information and registration system through a one-stop shop.

Department of Commerce has established a Digital Portal but does it have a section for boat building?

  • In setting up export processing zones and industry clusters, government to allocate and give priority to a new waterfront export-processing zone, whereby boat building and related export services can be provided to manufacturers, new investors and for international boat operators to obtain services. At the same time, study the possibility of expanding the existing Koggala Free Trade Zone to be immediately converted to a sea frontage export zone.

Except Koggala is there any other location  i.e in North and East ?

  • Develop in prioritised sequence fully fledged marinas infrastructures including facilities for super-yacht (with adequate power supply, longer jetty ) in following regions:
    • Galle;
    • Beruwala;
    • Koggala;
    • Trincomalee;


  • Hambanthota;

Cabinet paper regarding above has been approved and Ministry Of fisheries has called tenders .What is the plan and time frame to implement above ?

  • Attract investors through a sector-targeted program and investment promotion activities to reinforce local production of inputs for boat building and increase the use of innovative manufacturing technologies.

What is the plan for such promotion by BOI and Ministry of Investment Strategy?

  • Hold an annual dialogue between the academia and boat building companies to identify the skills gap and to address the R&D needs of the industry, to develop and implement University programmes for specific boat building technical skills (coating applicators, fibre glass technicians, carpenters, welders, fitters). Include marine and boat building as optional subjects in the school curriculum.

Is there any plans by Ministry of Higher Education and University Grant Commission to achieve above ?

  • Promote and encourage opportunities for technicians to work in the boat building industry through awareness raising campaign and job fairs among college and university students and graduates.

Is there any plans by Ministry of Higher Education and University Grant Commission to achieve above ?

  • Develop a training program for boat and yacht crew members (including boat masters, boat engineers, skippers, stewards, engine operator/technicians, deckhands, chefs etc.) to provide full services with chartering companies.
    The programmes to be conducted by authorized/ accredited institutions.

Who are the accredited Institutions?

  • Establish R&D and training funding schemes for industry and research centre collaboration in following institutions:
    • Colombo International Nautical and Engineering College;
    • University of Moratuwa;
    • Kotelawala Defence University;
    • Lanka Hydraulic Institute Ltd.

When the dialogue with above institutions will take place ?

  • Establish model-testing facilities for new products development for boat building based on research centres of key universities and private institutions accredited by the Government of Sri Lanka.

What is the firm plan and where do we get funds ?

  • Sensitize public authorities about the economic importance of boat building industry through awareness-raising and capacity building training (including field visits, meetings with private sectors and promoting success stories in the media) including linking with international Grow Boating Campaign.

Who will coordinate this activity ?

  • Establish a Steering Technical Committee, relevant ministry/ institution to work directly with a private sector as a PPP to drive decision and action for strategic industry development.

Is there a plan by the ministry of finance under whom PPP implementation body is functioning ?

  • Empower Boat Building Technology Institute (BTI) to act on behalf of the industry by:
    – recognizing as the national apex boating industry representative body with reference to;
    – doing strategic planning for industry development;
    – increasing membership numbers of BTI;
    – applying membership fee;
    – building the capacity of BTI to collect, analyse and disseminate the data and information on market demand and trends.

When does the government plan to make BTTI a gazetted official body?

  • Adapt adequate HS-8 digits level codes for marine industry inputs to allow the accurate national classification for imported products for boat building production for non-BOI companies to be categorized under materials for boat building and not under construction materials.

Is Sri Lanka Customs involved in this ?

  • Build-up linkages between boat building and electrical and electronic machinery sector by connecting leading companies through B2B meetings to incentivize sourcing from domestics suppliers.

Who will organise this activity and the where do they get funds from ?

  • Encourage and promote FDI/JV to fully and partially manufacture boat engines and accessories

Will BOI make this a priority activity ?

  • Increase linkages with logistics entrepot trade by installing bonded warehouses to store materials required special conditions (resins, pains, coatings). This can be done by bringing investors to install warehouses and enlarging existing commercial hub facilities.

Has Ministry of Finance and SL customs taken any action ?

  • Build-up linkages between boat building and tourism sector by developing touristic itinerary around the island and by providing chartering services

Has Ministry of tourism included this feature in their promotional plan ?

  • Prioritize a number of international boating and marine related shows and events, based on the strategic targets of the companies (B2Bs are fundamental) and assist with their participation by developing marketing strategies, a conception of the stand, promotional campaigns (media, digital marketing) and supporting logistical coordination.

Has government provided adequate facilities and funds for this activity?

  • Organize boating festivals and an annual boat show in Sri Lanka.

Has government provided adequate facilities and funds for this activity to BTTI?

  • Assist with the development of a branding strategy for the boat building industry through joint efforts of boat industry consortium of companies by developing:
    • common industry logo,
    • marketing materials;
    • communication channels;
    • promotional campaign including;
    • engaging into promotion activities foreign trade missions and

What is the action plan and leading Institution to manage this function? 

  • Showcase success stories of boat building development and participation in international boat shows and events through various media and internet communication channels and international sectorial press
  • Enable yacht chartering and renting services by developing the chartering itinerary around the island, combined with inland touristic attractions.

Will the ministry of tourism coordinate this activity and when ?

  • Provide courses of seamanship in order to enhance the lacking sea and boating culture.

Which organization will take the lead ?

Advisory committee organized by the EDB and the Ministry should take due consideration to above questions and have concerted plan to make NES a reality

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