Trade Debate

June 14, 2010 (LBO) – The recent protests in Colombo by a vocal group of businesses have brought to the fore the issue of Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and its merits and demerits in the Sri Lankan context. Any independent observer will agree that the debate has got shrouded in emotion, and at times, borders on irrational eeriness.

This vocal group in Sri Lanka will not countenance a healthy debate on the issue and scoff at the very mention of the word CEPA. Their aggressive ways has intimidated the majority of Sri Lankan businesses, who would like to seek its many benefits, into silence. Not only are they irrational, they seem to usurp to themselves the sole mantle of nationalist saviors painting all those advocating reason as unpatriotic and as traitors.

Take for example, what happened after a workshop in Colombo to mark the 10 years of FTA organized by two Chambers in Sri Lanka and economic think-tanks of India and Sri Lanka in May 2010.

The facts and figures of 10-years are available and representatives of businesses who have concerns can readily look and debate the pros and cons of increasing trade ties.

But by taking to the streets and inflaming passions of the people, the protest