Sri Lanka protectionists score against trade liberties

May 26, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s increasingly strident protectionist business interests have staged an apparently successful protest in the capital Colombo against further liberalization of trade and services with India. The protest came ahead of a visit by India’s foreign secretary who was expected to push for a revival of a liberalization deal in trade and services, called the comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA).

“CEPA will destroy 2,500 years of Sri Lankan independence,’ proclaimed one red lettered poster carried by a protester Wednesday in front of the residence of Sri Lanka’s president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The interests behind the protest apparently found a sympathetic ear in the country’s president.

“The government will not enter into any pact or agreement that is inimical to its people and economic interests,” the AFP news agency said quoting a statement from the president’s office.

The CEPA was blocked on the brink of signing earlier.

Tied Down

Trade barriers block competition by giving inefficient domestic business interests a free hand to overprice their goods and sell to a helplessly captive consumer base without any incentive to become efficient or keep the