In this Research Bulletin, we provide a detailed analysis of Sri Lanka’s trade performance during 2013 and the first quarter of 2014. The review highlights the external and internal driversthat shaped Sri Lanka’s external trade developments. The key challenges the country faces in terms of tweaking trade policy to meet the twin objectives of reducing trade deficit and increasing government revenue is discussed in detail. The analysis shows that reducing the trade deficit by curtailing imports may be feasible in the short run, but it will adversely affect government revenue and economic growth.
Sri Lanka hopes to increase export revenue to USD 20 bn by 2020. This target is perceived as ambitious; but, compared to the country’s growth targets and the performance of regional peers, it is mediocre. This Insight explains that to be confident of setting and achieving ambitious export targets, Sri Lanka must go beyond symptomatic remedies and address the root causes of underlying problems with its export strategy.
Sri Lanka’s International Trade: Performance and Prognosis analyses Sri Lanka’s international trade with special reference to its trade deficit, apparel sector and tea exports. It also analyses and evaluates the policies and structural issues Sri Lanka’s trade faces.
The World Bank’s ‘Doing Business Index’ measures the ease with which domestic small and medium sized enterprises to do business. Between 2011 and 2012, Sri Lanka’s rank in the Doing Business Index rose by 9 places, from 98th to 89th. However, an analysis of Sri Lanka’s rise indicates that it was mainly attributed to a jump in the strengthening investor protection category, and that the country’s rank declined or performed poorly in the remaining 9 indicators.