Unprecedented declines in merchandise trade, foreign direct investment (FDI) flows, tourism and cross-border migration have all been hallmarks of the economic fallout of COVID-19. As a result, growth expectations for countries worldwide dimmed. Nonetheless, thanks in part to substantial expansionary monetary and fiscal policies being rolled out to achieve pre-COVID economic recovery levels and the development of vaccines, the contraction in global trade and economic output are less than what was anticipated. The Sri Lankan economy too has been impacted by these external developments, witnessing fluctuating fortunes in its external sector performance. This blog discusses the impacts of global economic developments on Sri Lanka’s external sector and suggests ways to cushion them.
Sri Lanka’s edible oil market has garnered considerable attention in recent weeks due to a series of events including the banning of palm oil imports in a bid to promote the local coconut industry and the detection of aflatoxins in imported coconut oil. The edible oil industry is important for Sri Lanka with oils and fats being a major constituent of the typical Sri Lankan diet and a raw material in manufacturing, the food manufacturing industry in particular. According to the latest available data, there are around 5,057 establishments employing 332,828 workers in the formal food manufacturing sector which generate an annual output of approximately LKR 1.4 billion. This blog assesses the local edible oil market and its potential for import substitution.
Experts at CPD-IPS-SV international webinar on the ‘Recovery of the Apparel Sectors of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka: Is a Value-chain Based Solution Possible?’ call for suppliers, buyers, governments and international organisations to work closely together for speedy and sustainable recovery of the apparel sectors from the COVID-19 shock.
The government is giving renewed emphasis to increasing agriculture exports to manage the trade deficit and foreign debt burden. Most recently, a draft national agricultural policy has been prepared, with comments being sought from relevant stakeholders. This blog highlights gaps in the international market which the agriculture sector can target, identifies factors impeding export-sector growth in agriculture, and suggests solutions for unlocking the untapped potential in this vital sector.
Historically, the Sri Lankan government has resorted to import controls to counter a balance of payment crisis. The current import controls have the same underlying rationale. However, the trade deficit’s temporary shrinkage may not be sustainable if there is no increase in exports. To increase exports, Sri Lanka needs to remove hurdles on input supply, remove distortionary tariffs, exploit market opportunities under the rule-based free trade system, and in the long run, improve the country’s GVC participation.