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Capitalism in Asia: What it means for Sri Lanka

  • Sri Lanka Foundation Institute Auditorium No.100, Sri Lanka Padanama Mw, Independence Square Colombo, WP, 00700 Sri Lanka (map)



Capitalism in Asia has had an astoundingly successful run since the 1950s, especially in East Asia, with China now at its centre, and, to a lesser extent, in South Asia. What will be Asian capitalism’s challenges in the next half-century? And what will it mean for Sri Lanka?"

Date : Tuesday, 19th June 2018
Time :  5.30 PM to 8.00 PM
Venue : Sri Lanka Foundation Institute Auditorium, Colombo 07

"I will look at the three faces – or trimurti – of Asian capitalism: economic, political, and global.
First, its economic face. So far Asia has had successful “catch-up” growth based on mobilising labour and capital, and imitating what the West has already done. Poor Asia (low-income and lower middle-income Asia) still has much room for catch-up growth. But Middle and Rich Asia (upper middle-income and upper-income Asia) have either exhausted catch-up growth or come close to exhausting it. Their challenge is to innovate, to move to more productivity-based growth. They need the “creative destruction” of “Schumpeterian” capitalism. So what are their innovation challenges?
Second, Asian capitalism’s political face. What are the varieties of institutions that underpin Asian capitalism? Are they equipped to move to Schumpeterian capitalism? What are the obstacles? Is Schumpeterian capitalism possible in a Chinese-style autocracy? Or does it need Western-style liberal democracy and “open societies”?
And third, Asian capitalism’s global face. Asian capitalism has been successful in a global and regional environment of stability and openness – the post-1945 Pax Americana. US leadership has provided geopolitical security and the maintenance of a liberal world economy. But these conditions seem to be changing, and faster than expected, with the US in seeming decline and retreat, and China ascendant and more assertive. So what are the relevant global and regional scenarios for Asian capitalism?
I think Asia will find it much more difficult to meet its innovation challenges than it did to meet its catch-up challenges in past decades. I have strong doubts about the ability of Asia’s political and economic institutions to meet future innovation challenges. Not least, I doubt China’s ability to move to Schumpeterian capitalism under “market Leninism”, and to provide effective leadership in Asia – a Pax Sinica to replace the Pax Americana. I believe Schumpeterian capitalism needs stronger liberal-democratic institutions and more open societies in Asia, and a global context of stability and openness that will require continued leadership by the United States. That, I believe, is essential for the preservation and expansion of freedom and prosperity in Asia. But nothing is pre-programmed. There is a battle to fight. And it must also be fought on Sri Lankan soil – in economic policy, in building liberal-democratic political and economic institutions, in relations with foreign powers, and participation in international institutions."

 - Prof.Razeen Sally


5.30 PM -  Registration and Refreshments
6.00 PM -  Introduction to the talk
6.05 PM -  Lecture by Prof. Razeen Sally
7.00 PM -  Q&A with Prof Sally Moderated by Eshini Ekanayake - Economist, JB Securities ltd.

Speaker Profile 

razeen sally.jpg

Razeen Sally is Associate Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He is Chairman of the Institute of Policy Studies, the main economic-policy think tank in his native Sri Lanka. Previously he taught at the London School of Economics, where he received his PhD. He has been Director of the European Centre for International Political Economy, a global-economy think tank in Brussels. He has held visiting research and teaching positions at Institut D’Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris, the Australian National University, the University of Hong Kong, the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, and Dartmouth College in the USA. He was also Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Competitiveness. He is an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute, and on the advisory boards of the Institute of Economic Affairs (UK) and the Centre for Independent Studies (Australia). He is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society.
Razeen Sally’s research and teaching focuses on global trade policy and Asia in the world economy. He has written on the WTO, FTAs, and on different aspects of trade policy in Asia. He has also written on the history of economic ideas, especially the theory of commercial policy. He is a senior adviser to the Finance Minister of Sri Lanka and his new book on Sri Lanka will be published in 2019.

Moderator Profile


Eshini Ekanayake is an Economist at JB Securities focused on macroeconomic research and analysis on Sri Lanka. She has also worked as an Associate at Moody's Analytics Sri Lanka, supporting economic research of several leading global financial institutions. Eshini has over 6 years of experience in Macroeconomic Research, Economic Forecasting, and Applied Econometrics. She holds a BSc in Economics and Finance from the University of Bristol and an MSc in Economic Policy from University College London.