Sri Lanka needs free trade, FDI, better education, to sustain growth

July 10, 2013 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has to maintain economic stability free trade, draw more foreign investment and invest in education to boost productivity and sustain high levels of growth, officials said at the start of a policy forum. Ceylon Chamber of Commerce chief Suresh Shah said Sri Lanka had to export more to grow.

“We are too small a country to sustain growth by trading among ourselves,” he said.

“More importantly, we are an import dependent country; the stronger our growth, the greater the demand for imports, be it for consumption or production.”

Though the country could not afford to curtail imports with state revenues were also dependent on imports, but if balance of payments got out of sync it had to be done, he said.

Singh said Sri Lanka has seen poverty fall fast in recent years. Inflation was also falling.

But the external sector was weaker than fast growing Asian peers with a wider external current account and slower foreign reserve growth, he said.

Analysts say fast foreign reserve growth which involves sterilized foreign exchange purchases and ‘below the line’ outflows of capital via a monetary authority which is not captured in standard balance of payments statistics helps narrow a cu