‘Cosmetics industry facing numerous issues due to import ban’

‘The government due to the current forex shortage has decided to temporarily suspend the import of non-essential items to the country on August 23.  In the said list of items, the government has also included cosmetic products as a temporarily restricted item.  While Sri Lanka’s forex problem is well understood it is important to note that the cost of import of cosmetics as per Sri Lanka Customs information does not exceed 0.1% of the total import bill for both 2021 and 2022, a Chamber of Cosmetics Industry press release said.

The release adds: ‘However, by contrast it should be noted that Sri Lanka has in excess of 30,000 salons and 15,000 cosmetics outlets that employ over 300,000 people out of which the majority are females.  Further, the local cosmetics importers also employ close to 1000 persons in their respective organizations. The above ban has threatened the employment of a high percentage of hairdressers, beauticians, salon owners, traders, trade assistants, beauty advisors, make-up artistes as well numerous other people involved in the bridal industry and the indirect beneficiaries where most of them are breadwinners of families.

‘It should be noted that other than the employment generated the said imports contribute almost 90% of the total import value in the form of govt. taxes, cess, and other statutory payments to the Treasury and also at the point of registration of goods at the NMRA.

 ‘Besides there are many academies in Sri Lanka that are regulated and have a large number of students intending to travel abroad for employment, using international brands of cosmetic products for their training which help the student who eventually turns out to be a beautician and then employed in countries, such as, Australia and New Zealand mainly and also in the rest of the world. Working with specific brands of products is different from one to another and hence internationally this method is highly acceptable and needed when training as a student.

‘Further, there is a percentage of foreigners and expatriate Sri Lankans who travel to Sri Lanka to have their wedding and they too prefer to use international brands of cosmetics for the said purpose.  This wedding industry is a growing business and has gradually started to earn forex.

‘The International brands of cosmetics imported into Sri Lanka also help develop the local hair and beauty industry by way of latest product developments as well techniques.

‘Due to the current temporary suspension, it is also evident that a large number of individuals are hand-carrying commercial quantities of cosmetics thus depriving the country of revenue that would have been earned through the proper channel of importation.    This had also caused a black market to emerge in the industry.

‘With the Christmas and New Year season being around the corner and as importers need at least 60 days to import, i.e, lead time and shipping time included, the fervent appeal of all in the industry to the authorities is to lift the temporary suspension and allow these goods to be brought in. After all, considering the very small number of $ involved it’s not bound to hurt the foreign exchange requirement.’


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