Tuesday March 26, 2019

Sri Lanka to boost economic diplomacy with Harvard University

Mar 07, 2017 12:52 PM GMT+0530 | 0 Comment(s)

ECONOMYNEXT - Sri Lanka's government is boosting its economic diplomacy capacity with Harvard University which will help boost investments and exports, Deputy Finance Minister Harsha de Silva said.

"Traditional diplomacy was to bring peace," Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha de Silva said. "Economic diplomacy is to bring prosperity."

Sri Lanka had a presence in over 60 countries spending about 9 billion rupees a year, de Silva said.

"Sri Lanka is running a race, where we are behind Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar," he said. "We have some good runners, we need a strategy. We have got the best coaches in the world to coach our runners."

The best team among those in the course will be sent on an executive training scheme at Harvard.

De Silva said Sri Lanka needed more foreign investments to boost jobs and living standards.

Director General Department of Commerce Sonali Wijesundere said the course also included Commercial Officers and the course also has modules to strengthen links with ambassadors.

She said Commercial Officers were engaged in a wide variety of work from dealing with inquiries and promotion was also not targeted

Sri Lanka's exports were not diversified enough she said.

Matt Andrews, Associate Professor at the Harvard Centre for International Development said foreign officers could play a big role in convincing foreign investors to come to a country.

He said there was a link between high export performance countries and the effectiveness of their foreign officers.

Andrews said the need for export diversification in Sri Lanka was well understood and the course would focus on how to do it.

Other analysts also caution that Sri Lanka has to maintain rule of law, strengthen property rights by avoiding expropriation and ad hoc taxation, keep macro-economic stability with low inflation, which may require central bank reform to bring large volumes of foreign investments in.

Areas like Hong Kong specifically refrained from setting up an export development board like Singapore, but had small government and low taxation.

However when governments are large, when property rights are violated when taxation is erratic economic diplomats face a much bigger challenge. (Colombo/Mar07/2017)


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