March 15, 2008 (LBO) – A new study on a south Asian regional trade deal has said Sri Lanka will gain more in the next phase of liberalisation but the island’s private sector representatives have expressed scepticism about the outcome. The study on the benefits of the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) found that since 1991 the potential for intra-regional trade has increased with an improvement in ‘complementarities’ among the three major trading partners, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.
“This implies that for these countries, the products they export are to a greater extent now being imported by the region as a whole,” said the study sponsored by the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development-India.
It used various models and simulations to assess likely consequences of SAFTA on additional effective market access that member countries may gain.
The preliminary findings were discussed at a seminar in Colombo organised by the Institute of Policy Studies, a think tank, with the aim of formulating policies to ensure greater gains.
The analysis identified restrictions on trade in services like health services, higher education, tourism, telecommunications services and constr