Dr. Ganeshan Wignaraja, Chair of the Global Economy Programme (supported by Dilmah) at LKI, was an invited speaker at the Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2017. On the first day of the summit, Dr. Wignaraja gave a presentation on the topic of ‘Revisiting Sri Lanka’s Trade and FDI Record’ during a thematic session on ‘Executing a Smarter Trade Strategy Amidst Turbulence’.
Dr. Harsha Vardhana Singh, Executive Director of Brookings India; Dr. Dushni Weerakoon, Deputy Director of the Institute of Policy Studies; and Ms. Elizabeth Ward, Special Negotiator from the Office of Trade Negotiations at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also participated in the discussion. The session was chaired by Mr. Anushka Wijesinha, Chief Economist from the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
On the panel, Dr. Wignaraja stated, “I think we should build up FTA negotiation capacity properly through a dedicated USTR-type body and that should come under the Prime Minister or the President’s Office, and it should criss-cross the two trade ministries we have, the multiple ministries, etc. It should have a dedicated team of lawyers and economists, particularly if you’re trying to do multiple negotiations.”
Dr. Wignaraja’s presentation explored Sri Lanka’s trade and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) performance. He noted that while trade performance remained resilient amid a regional deceleration in trade growth, FDI into the country has been slow-moving. To enhance FDI and boost export growth, Dr. Wignaraja suggested that Sri Lanka look to opportunities arising from China’s economic rebalancing. He also stressed the need for greater structural reforms and more bilateral agreements in Asia.
Dr. Wignaraja was also invited to chair a thematic session titled ‘Belt and Road Initiative – Transformative Opportunity for Sri Lanka?’ on the second day of the summit. The session focused on what the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) mean for the Sri Lankan economy.
The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual two-day summit on 25-26 July 2017, under the title of ‘Execute – Transform – Realize’. The event drew a diverse group of over 400 participants including sectoral experts, industry practitioners, government officials, high-profile corporate executives, academics, and media.