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LKI’s Executive Director, Dr. Ganeshan Wignaraja recently delivered the keynote address at a seminar titled ‘Brexit and Its Implications to Sri Lanka,’ organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC). The seminar was followed by a discussion featuring a diverse panel comprising trade experts, private sector representatives and economists.
Dr. Wignaraja outlined the Brexit process, both from the perspective of the EU and the UK. He also discussed the international dimensions of Brexit amidst an uncertain global economic environment, particularly the overarching implications for Sri Lanka.
He highlighted that the 33.5% world trade is transacted with EU countries, making the EU the world’s largest trading bloc. Brexit will, therefore, cause a significant change in the status quo. The evidence suggests that it will have a large negative impact on the UK, as well as a varied impact on the EU.
Speaking on the outlook for Sri Lanka, Dr. Wignaraja said growth in 2019 could be weak for the island nation, particularly given the weakening global economic outlook which is worsened by escalating US-China trade tensions, and the fallout from the Easter Sunday attacks. While gradual economic recovery is possible with a comprehensive national response that involves an integrated set of security, governance and development policies, he noted that this may take some time. However, he cautioned that even a small negative shock from Brexit will have significant implications for Sri Lanka, given its fragile economy and political uncertainty linked to upcoming elections.
Dr. Wignaraja noted that Sri Lanka should continue to monitor the Brexit process and political developments in the UK and EU to secure its interests. While Sri Lanka must maintain economic links with the UK, it should also work to deepen its engagement with the EU. He also called for the development of a strong business-government partnership to address the opportunities and challenges from Brexit.
Other notable speakers at the event included Dr. Utsav Kumar, Asian Development Bank; Ms. Jayani Ratnayake, Economist, CCC; Mr. Nimal Karunathilake, Department of Commerce; and Mr. Felix Fernando, Omega Line Limited. The panel discussion was moderated by Mr. Shiran Fernando, CCC.
LKI is a think tank that analyses Sri Lanka’s international relations and strategic interests, to provide insights and recommendations that advance justice, peace, prosperity, and sustainability. The Institute reflects the vision of the late Hon. Lakshman Kadirgamar by promoting the country’s intellectual profile in foreign policy research and engagement. For more details visit www.lki.lk.