Sri Lanka must seek balance between East and West: economist

Sept 23, 2011 (LBO) – Sri Lanka must improve trade ties with emerging Asian growth centres but not write-off the United States and Europe just because they are in a weak phase, an economist said. “We need to find ways for Sri Lanka to productively piggy-back on India’s growth and seek closer economic integration with India.” The island must also take a long-term strategic view in its foreign policy and not allow “antagonisms stemming from the (ethnic) war” to affect economic ties, said Anushka Wijesinha, an economist at the Institute of Policy Studies, a think-tank.

The country must also find ways of “productively piggy-backing” on India’s accelerating growth and growing market, he told a recent forum at the American Center.

Wijesinha said Sri Lanka must “charter a smarter course” that would enable it to take advantage of the changes taking places in the global economy.

Although the global centre of economic gravity was shifting to the east and this was clearly the ‘Asian century’, the Western economies of the US and Europe that had been dominant must not be written off.

“About 55-60 percent of our exports go to the US and EU, although they are under stress,” Wijesinha said.

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