Sri Lanka can up exports by moving to complex products: economist

Oct 20, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka can increase exports and incomes by creating conditions to allow producers to move in to more complex products based on knowledge and research, a top economist said. By moving to complex products through innovation, a country could stop worrying about competition from Bangladesh or Vietnam, he said.

Sri Lanka’s export composition has not changed much over the past decade or so, he said.

Exports as a share of gross domestic product, has fallen sharply from 33 percent in 2010 to 18 percent in 2011. In 2012 it may fall to 15 percent.

The share of tea had increased mainly due to price increases.

Wijewardene said Sri Lanka needed to produce more engineers or scientists to come up with new technology or create conditions for others to come to the country in a ‘reverse brain drain’ process.

He said the government’s program of a ‘Green Colombo’ would help by creating ‘oases’ for people to live and work.

Wijewardene said Sri Lanka also needed to provide rule of law and property rights and an independent judiciary to protect the rights of the people.