Research Team

Bangladesh – Sri Lanka Preferential Trade Agreement: Gains and Policy Challenges

Despite enhanced trade partnerships in South Asia, intra-regional trade is far from reaching its theoretical potential. Similar production patterns and competitive sectors can be the causes. However, bilateral discussions to further lower trade costs continue. The ongoing Bangladesh-Sri Lanka discussions on a preferential trade agreement (PTA) will benefit from knowing the potential gains from reducing bilateral trade costs. In addition, knowledge of products with a higher potential for export gains will help optimise the economic benefits from a trade deal. The ex-ante estimates predict modest gains for Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in absolute terms, even after completely removing the sensitive list. Given that the estimated modest economic gains of a Bangladesh-Sri Lanka PTA do not justify a trade deal that requires substantial resources for negotiations, the PTA should have fewer regulatory measures and tariff concessions for the products on the offensive lists to maximise the economic benefits of a PTA between the two countries.

Reopening Schools in the New Normal: Key Focus Areas for Sri Lanka

The decision to gradually reopen Sri Lankan schools – which have been shut for close to 20 months since COVID-19 first struck – is a welcome move. As of September 2021, 93% of countries had reopened schools either completely or partially, making Sri Lanka one of the last to do so. The decision to devote the next six months to recovering learning losses, giving precedence to essential syllabus areas and decision-making flexibility to schools, is encouraging news. This blog provides some insights into the current education recovery practices being adopted globally and draws attention to some important areas that can be incorporated into the current strategies being devised in Sri Lanka.

GSP+ Withdrawal: How Would it Impact Sri Lanka’s Economy?

Sri Lanka’s preferential access to the vital European Union (EU) market faces fresh challenges after the European Parliament’s special resolution adopted in June 2021. The GSP+ is a non-reciprocal trading arrangement whereby Sri Lanka does not have to lower tariffs in return but is required to implement certain non-trade related conventions to benefit from preferential access. The GSP+ arrangement slashes import duties to zero for vulnerable low and lower-middle-income countries that implement 27 international conventions related to human rights, labour rights, environment protection, and good governance. This article assesses the impact of a hypothetical withdrawal of GSP+ on Sri Lanka’s exports to the EU: the largest single trading bloc, with the United Kingdom (UK), accounting for 30% of Sri Lanka’s exports.

Mitigating Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 Education Crisis: Priority Areas for Action

The year 2020 saw close to 1.6 billion students from over 180 countries being kept out of schools for extended periods of time, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite commendable efforts by many countries to put in place alternative remote learning strategies and corrective measures, learning losses have been unavoidable and substantial.

In this second year of the pandemic, many countries are moving from emergency responses towards policies aimed at recovery. Along with reopening schools and resuming education, these also include tailored support to help students adjust to learning in the new normal, and remedial measures to make up for lost learning.

Sri Lankan schools have been largely dysfunctional for over 15 months since initial closures in March 2020, despite some brief periods of operation. This blog examines policy responses adopted in Sri Lanka’s education sector over the past year, with a view of informing its future education recovery strategy in 2021 and beyond.

How Should Sri Lanka Finance the COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout?

An effective vaccination strategy is a necessity for countries to move beyond COVID-19. However, it also requires careful policymaking to balance the financial cost of purchasing and delivering vaccines while stimulating economic growth. This article, based on a recent IPS analysis, provides an overview of the approximate costs associated with the COVID-19 vaccination rollout in Sri Lanka and evaluates policy options to finance the initiative. The authors argue that the government is best off pursuing a medium-term self-financing option through targetted tax interventions and if required, through external financing.

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