Sri Lanka think tank highlights regional market prospects

March 02, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lankan exporters have a virtually untapped opportunity in south Asia’s huge market that could compensate for difficulties in accessing traditional Western markets, a new study has said. “For Sri Lanka, south Asia is increasingly becoming important as a trading partner,” said Saman Kelegama, director of the Institute of Policy Studies, a think tank which published the study.

The book, “Promoting economic cooperation in South Asia: beyond SAFTA” argues that the South Asian Free Trade Agreement has potential to accelerate economic growth in the region.

It contains the views of academics, policy makers and private sector leaders.

Kelegama said India is now the largest import source for Sri Lanka as well as the third largest destination for the island’s exports.

Sri Lanka is strengthening its trade links with other south Asian countries already having bilateral free trade deals with India and Pakistan.

“This is particularly important at a time when preferential access to the EU market via GSP Plus is in doubt,” said Kelegama.

He was referring to the European Union decision to withdraw the GSP Plus trade deal giving duty free access for exports because of alle