COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has called for new thinking on an Asian growth strategy and a more co-operative approach among countries to overcome asymmetries in intra-regional integration.
He told a major regional economic conference in China that Asian countries must develop appropriate public policy strategies to respond to challenges they face while taking into consideration individual differences.
"This calls for new thinking on an Asian growth strategy, and a more cooperative partnership among the community of nations," Sirisena said.
"The vast asymmetries among Asian economies need to be acknowledged and addressed in this process of cooperation. The larger economies in the region can play a catalytic role for progress of the smaller economies."
Sirisena told the Boao Forum for Asia 2015 on 28 March 2015, held on Hainan island in China’s south, that preferential market access must take into consideration economic asymmetries for such access to be viable and beneficial.
"Connectivity among nations and people, in terms of travel, trade, logistics and technology, will play a pivotal role in Asian integration and prosperity," he declared.
"Simplifying trade and reducing non-tariff barriers is vital in order to enhance connectivity."
Sirisena said the expansion in intra-regional economic integration in Asia has not seen an equitable increase in regional economic cooperation.
"There remains a notable asymmetry in the degree of intra-regional integration. The Asian region is also still largely dependent on extra-regional markets for its final exports, and lacks significant complementarities within the region."
Such asymmetries, Sirisena said, curtail efforts to translate Asia’s collective economic success into a greater voice on global trade, investment and finance.
Sri Lanka is committed to such cooperation and collective action within the community of Asian nations, he said, noting that the island’s location and free trade deals could be made use of.
The island nation’s strategic location as well as the Free Trade Agreements with India and Pakistan can be made use of by countries in accessing the vast potential of the Indian Subcontinent, Sirisena said.
"We are hopeful that our FTA with China, currently under negotiation, will provide further impetus for value addition and economic cooperation in the region."