Sri Lankan businesses should look at CEPA as a compliment not substitute: Economist

Prof Razeen Sally-LBO

May 22, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lankan businesses should look at the extension of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) as a compliment to their businesses and not as a substitute, a senior economist said.

Razeen Sally, an Associate Professor of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew School speaking at the LBR LBO CEO forum called local businessmen not to think CEPA as the driving force of their businesses.

“That is dangerous. If you look at it as a compliment to other things then that should be done here not in India; open up the economy and improve the domestic business climate here.” Sally stressed.

Professor Sally warned Sri Lanka not to let trade negotiations lead the country’s national economic policy and highlighted the need of a coherent national plan of reform which has trade, investment and supply chain component.

“Otherwise you’ll end up with the wrong results; you’ll also end up with political backlash at home,” Professor Sally said.

However the free trade agreement with India is always criticized for being partial.

“It doesn’t really tackle the bulk of the non tariff and regulatory barriers especially at the Indian end, but there are problems over here too,” Sally said.

“This becomes even more complicated when it comes to negotiating agreements in services because they are all about domestic regulations; they are not about tariffs at the boarder.”