Media coverage for Prof. Razeen Sally lecture on Asian Capitalism and what it means for Sri Lanka

Advocata Institute in partnership with Echelon Magazine hosted Prof. Razeen Sally for a talk on the state of Asian Capitalism and what it means for Sri Lanka. Following is a collection of press coverage on the lecture where Prof. Razeeb Sally spoke of the the three facets of Asian capitalism: economic, political, and global.

Daily FT: SL is running out of input-led ‘perspiration’ growth in changing Asia: Razeen Sally

"Shortages of labour, land and an ageing population mean that Sri Lanka’s opportunities for rapid catch-up growth are diminishing and institutional transformation is needed for innovation and output-led growth." 

Read the full article

Sunday Times: Sri Lanka losing battle to increase productivity growth due to cronyism, lack of strong institutions

"Prof. Sally, who is also chairman of the Institute of Policy Studies, one of the leading economic-policy think tanks in the country, believes Sri Lanka’s crony patronage system between politicians and businessmen and the lack of strong institutions (legal, banking, public administration, etc) were an impediment to productivity growth."

Read the full article

Sunday Observer: Sri Lanka has to get reform basics right - Sally 

"Addressing a recent lecture titled Capitalism in Asia: What it means for Sri Lanka, Associate Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, Razeen Sally points out that the country which is transitioning towards an upper middle-income country should not be overly dependent on the kind of ‘catch-up growth’ it had in the past, but try to improve its institutional framework and focus on innovation."

Read the full article

Daily Mirror: Sri Lanka sleepwalking into a Rajapaksa dynasty - Prof. Sally

"Delivering a public lecture last week on the topic ‘Capitalism in Asia and what it means for Sri Lanka’, organised by Advocata Institute – an open market advocacy – Prof. Sally said the present government is doing its best towards a Rajapaksa restoration."

Read the full article

Daily Mirror: March corporate earnings defy overall negative sentiment

"Last week, Professor Razeen Sally, a renowned scholar and the Chairman of Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Colombo, slammed the crony private sector in Sri Lanka and elsewhere in Asia that undermines the enterprise renaissance and effective capitalism."

Read the full article

Prof. Robert Lawrence on Protectionism vs Free Trade: Video

Advocata Institute in partnership with Echelon Magazine, organized a public lecture by Ricardo Hausmann, from Harvard University's Centre for International Development. He spoke of Free Trade vs Protectionism 101 and its relation to Sri Lanka, and encouraged Sri Lanka to take on ambitious high skilled immigration reform to increase knowhow in the economy.

Prof. Razeen Sally on the state of Asian Capitalism and what it means for Sri Lanka: Video and Q&A

Prof. Razeen Sally, Associate Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, spoke of the three facets of Asian capitalism and what it means for Sri Lanka at a public lecture organized by Advocata and the Echelon Magazine. 

Q&A Moderated by Eshini Ekanayake, an Economist at JB Securities focused on macroeconomic research and analysis on Sri Lanka.

A Public Lecture on Asian Capitalism and what it means for Sri Lanka

Advocata, along with Echelon Magazine with it's new event series Think! will host Prof Razeen Sally for a talk on the state of Asian Capitalism and what it means for Sri Lanka.

Prof Razeen Sally, Associate Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He is also Chairman of the Institute of Policy Studies, Sri Lanka. 

Eshini Ekanayake, Economist at JB Securities will moderate the Q&A.

Capitalism 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?

Prof. Sally will look at the three facets 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?

Find out more about the lecture and register to attend.

Ricardo Hausmann on Accessing know-how for Development : Video Lecture and Q&A

Prof Ricardo Hausmann of Harvard University's Centre for International development spoke about   the importance of immigration reform for Sri Lanka at a public lecture organized by Advocata and Echelon Magazine.  Prof Hausmann argues that know-how which immigration brings is essential to diversify Sri Lanka's exports and help the country grow faster.

Q&A moderated by Murtaza Jafferjee 

Press Coverage for Ricardo Hausmann Lecture

Advocata Institute in partnership with Echelon Magazine organized a public lecture by Ricardo Hausmann, from Harvard University's Centre for International Development.  Following is a collection of press coverage for the lecture that encouraged Sri Lanka to take on ambitious high skilled immigration reform to increase knowhow in the economy. 

From the Sunday Times :  "Sri Lanka must open doors to skilled experts"

"Economist and consultant to the government on improving the Board of Investment (BOI), Prof. Ricardo Haussmann said that the immigration policy is the “lowest hanging fruit” which must expand to encourage more foreign knowhow."

From the Sunday Observer: Liberalising migrant labour policies key to propel growth - Prof Hausmann

“With the talent you have, you have the country you have. But with the talent you have, you cannot create the country you want to have. To have the country you want to have, you have to compete for talent,” the Professor advocated."

From the Daily News :  Sri Lanka can create jobs, boost exports, by moving brains: Prof. Hausmann

“Only 18 percent were born in California, even though it has a population of 40 million, twice as big as Sri Lanka,” Hausmann said.” Silicon Valley would not exist if was based on locally grown talent.”

DailyFT  Editorial :  The immigration discourse

"Economies grow by adding new products and services to their production portfolio, and not by producing more of the same kinds of products. The key to such diversification is access to know-how, but know-how often has to come from abroad."

Immigration key catalyst for development

"Reforming immigration law to allow free movement of people through progressive laws could tackle Sri Lanka’s chronic economic challenges of narrow exports, low Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and limited innovation, a top expert said yesterday, outlining many examples of countries that have experienced growth spurts by opening up their labour markets."

LankaDeepa Sinhala Daily
ශ්‍රී ලංකාව මුහුණ පා ඇති අපනයන සීමා වීම හා ඍජු විදේශ ආයෝජන මඳ බව යන ගැටලුවලින් මිදීමට ආගමන සීමාකරණ ඉවත් කිරීමේ දැඩි අවශ්‍යතාවක් පවතින බව හාවඞ් මහාචාර්ය හඋස්මාන් පෙන්වා දෙයි.

Articles also appeared on Ceylon Today and DailyMirror on their print versions.  An op-ed on the event by Advocata was published in all major English Dalies.

 

 

Advocata to host Prof Ricardo Hausmann for public lecture

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Prof Ricardo Hausmann, Harvard economist and renowned development expert to give a public lecture on “Accessing knowhow for Development” in Colombo.   More details are available here

Advocata Institute is organizing a Public lecture by Prof Ricardo Hausmann, the director of Centre for International Development  (CID) at Harvard University.  The event is to be held on Wednesday 16th May at the Lighthouse @ LKI.  24, Horton Place, Colombo 07.  5.30 PM to 7.45 PM 

Prof Hausmann is a leading expert on development economics and a practitioner on finding enablers for growth in developing countries.  He will speak on the topic of “Accessing knowhow for development”.

Economies grow by adding new products and services to their production portfolio , and not by producing more of the same kinds of products argues Prof. Hausmann. The key to such diversification is access to know-how, but know-how often has to come from abroad. This is because it is often easier to move brains to new countries than to move new know-how into brains. In the experience of Singapore, India, Vietnam and most other dynamic economies, three channels of know-how transfer stand out: FDI, immigration and diaspora networks.
 
In this lecture, Prof. Hausmann explores the relationship between economic development and the accumulation of know-how. He will in particular discuss how to tackle Sri Lanka’s limited export diversification.
 
Prof Hausmann and his team at CID has been conducting research on ehow to diversify sri lanka’s exports to compete globally, achieving dynamic growth and upgrading knowhow in the economy.  
 
Before joining the faculty at Harvard,  Prof. Hausmann was the Chief Economist of the Inter-American Development Bank (1994-2000), where he created the Research Department. He has served as Minister of Planning of Venezuela (1992-1993) and as a member of the Board of the Central Bank of Venezuela. He also served as Chair of the IMF-World Bank Development Committee. He holds a PhD in economics from Cornell University.
 
The lecture would be followed up Q&A moderated by Murtaza Jafferjee, CEO of JB Securities ltd. You can register here.
 
Advocata Institute is an independent free-market policy think tank based in Colombo.
 
 

Free market think tank that hopes to build a fairer society

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To own and live in your own house is the dream of most Sri Lankans. Sadly for over 2.5 million families it will only be just that, a dream. According to the housing needs assessment and data survey conducted by the Ministry of Housing and Construction, over 2.5 million families either live in temporary housing, on rent, in partially constructed housing, in cadjan roofed houses or are homeless and landless.

When Dhananath Fernando first saw the statistics he was taken aback. “This means that half the population, that’s ten million people, are in need of housing,” he says emphatically. Which is why for Dhananath, the high protectionism taxes placed on construction material is so problematic, with wall and floor tiles being levied 108% import tax and 90% on construction steel.

The high taxation on building material disproportionately affects those with lower income due to the regressive nature of indirect tax, and thus makes it far more difficult for the average Sri Lankan to own a house. This impact on the poor and vulnerable in society is what then motivated Dhananath, a policy researcher to find out where exactly this extra cost comes from.

Dhananath’s research study –‘Cost of construction and protectionism’ won the main award at the Asia Think Tank Shark Tank Championship held in Jakarta, Indonesia in February. The competition which was held during the Asia Liberty Forum pitted think tank professionals from across the region in front of a panel of thought leaders – the prize – a USD 10,000 grant for their project.

This year’s eminent panel included former Finance Minister of Indonesia and Ash Centre Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University Dr. Chatib Basri; Prof. Razeen Sally from the National University of Singapore; Chairperson at Atlas Network Linda Whetstone -; CEO and Co-founder of Free the People in the United States Terry Kibbe and Siegfried Herzog – Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom. Of the three finalists, Dhananath’s pitch was adjudged as creating the most impact on public policy for helping the economic prosperity of Asia.

This victory has meant that Advocata, the freemarket think tank founded by Dhananath, can go forward with his research study. He intends it to be a twofold one with the first part focusing on the regional comparison of construction and material cost within the South Asian region, for benchmarking purposes. The second part will be an industry analysis on the challenges faced by the industry as well as identifying the areas in which efficiency can be achieved. Dhananath intends the study to result in a policy brief for the consideration for the government and engagement with the local industry stakeholders. But the final objective for him is to help those he calls the most vulnerable, the poor consumer.

The issue of high protectionism taxes on construction material first came to his attention when reading a report published by a local conglomerate, the Jafferjee Brothers. Though such taxes are applied across several industries, what surprised Dhananath was the sheer scale of it especially when there is a dire need for housing, with even basic necessities such as sanitary fixtures being levied upto 70% in taxes. The argument for such protectionist measures is acceptable during the infancy stages of industries, however as Dhananath points out it has been decades since these industries have started up. With no publicly available plan by the state detailing a timeline for protectionist measures and the end of such measures, it appears that there are no plans to phase them out according to Dhananath. “A 108% tax rate shows that the local industry is very inefficient,” he says, questioning why the general consumer must bear their inefficiencies.

The high construction costs may even explain why Sri Lanka has failed to attract the level of FDI initially expected. Dhananath recounts speaking with developers and investors who’ve stated that it’s cheaper to build in other parts of the region rather than in Sri Lanka, which allows them to recover the cost of their investment faster.

An old boy of St. Sebastian’s College in Moratuwa, Dhananath became interested in public policies as a child through his involvement in the Liberal Youth Guild (LYG) and debating. But coming from a traditional background, he was steered towards the sciences and medicine. “My parents wanted their only child to become a doctor,” he says, as he recounts how he attempted to enter the Medical Faculty, but missed out and instead followed a bio-science degree at the University of Colombo. However due to a lack of funds to pursue further education, Dhananath ended up working in the fields of HR and Market Research. It was during this time that his passion for public policy was rekindled. He followed courses at Atlas Leadership Academy in the USA and the Centre for Policy Research in Kochi, India. Once armed with the practical experience in research, and backed by academic qualifications, Dhananath founded the free market thinktank Advocata with a small group of friends.

Established two years ago, Dhananath explains that Advocata aims to create public awareness on public policy issues, and help governments make policy decisions based on facts and research rather than just anecdotal evidence. They’ve attempted to do the former through various articles and videos in collaborations with popular media such as Yamu.lk. “The response has been humbling,” says Dhananath, especially from the young urban professionals.

For Dhananath, the goals of Advocata and free market ideals are very personal. “Liberalisation isn’t for the rich, it’s for the poor. It gives everyone the opportunity to succeed,” he says emphatically. Witnessing the hardships faced by the poor and vulnerable during his time with the charity organization CandleAid, furthered his resolve to change things. “Sri Lanka has not met its full potential. We’ve been doing the same thing for the last 70 years,” he says critically, noting that we’ve slid towards greater protectionism, that mostly benefits a few and not the public as a whole.

Coming from modest beginnings himself, he truly believes that everyone should be given an opportunity to succeed. “I wouldn’t say things were difficult, but rather that things weren’t easy,” he says, recounting how as a student he used to provide for his retired parents by conducting tuition classes. Learning English too was an obstacle having grown up without studying in the language. Which is why having presented his proposal to the eminent panel at the Asia Think Tank Shark Tank and winning the grant is also personally satisfying to him as it shows how far he has come.

Advocata named in list of best new think tanks in the world

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Advocata Institute has been named in the list of best new think tanks in the world in 2017 by University of Pennsylvania's Think tanks and civil society program (TTCSP).  The list appears in the 2017 Global Go to Think Tank Index published annually by the university, widely regarded as the benchmark study of global think tanks.

This is the second consecutive year Advocata Institute ranked on the “Go to Think Tank Index” under the category of “Best Upcoming Think Tanks in the world”. Advocata Institute is a young think tank formed in May 2016, working on economic Freedom and free markets in Sri Lanka.

Advocata conducts research issues related State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) in Sri Lanka, Protectionism and tariff reform as well as ease of doing business in the country.  

Professor Rohan Samarajiva, Professor Premachandra Athukorala, Professor Suri Ratnapala and Dr.Nishan de Mel are few top academics serves in their board of advisors while Anarkali Moonesighe the CIMB CEO joined their advisory board from the corporate sector

Advocata recently hosted Prof.Robert Lawrence from Harvard Kennedy School on a session on “Path for Prosperity: Free Trade or Protectionism” and managed to win the “Asian Think Tank Shark Tank” competition in Jakarta for a research study on cost of construction & protectionism.

According to the “2017 Global Go to Think Tank Index” report there are 7815 (6486 think tanks in 2016) think tanks and civil society organizations in the world working on an array of issues of interest in environment, economy, international affairs and etc. The report has identified 32 think tanks and civil society organizations in Sri Lanka.

Regional centre for Strategic Studies(SL) ranked 32nd in the Best Think Tanks in Southeast Asian Region and Institute for Policy Studies(SL) followed them in the 33rd Ranking. Centre for poverty analysis (SL) (CEPA) ranked 44th and Institute for National Security Studies (SL) Ranked 100th in the same category.  

Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies ranked 126th as the Top Foreign Policy and International Affairs Think Tanks

Brooking Institute in the United States was rated as the best think Tank in the world.


The key objective of the study of University of Pennsylvania is to helping to bridge the gap between knowledge and policy and the 2017 report is their 11th anniversary edition.

Media coverage for Robert Lawrence Lecture on Protectionism

Harvard Economist Prof Robert Lawrence delivered a lecture on Protectionism and free trade, following is a selection of the media coverage for the event.

 

Economy next: Sri Lanka-style Trump steel taxes slammed; construction, exports, final goods, hit

"In Sri Lanka total tariffs on steel was raised to as much as 90 percent which includes customs duty, cess, port and airport levy, nation building tax, Murtaza Jafferjee head of JB Stockbrokers told a forum organized by Advocata Institute, a Colombo-based think tank."

Read the full article

 

Daily FT: Harvard economist calls for tariff reforms to increase exports

"There is no rationale for most of these tariffs,” said Prof. Lawrence, adding that historically, imposing tariffs has been more a case of who exerted the most political influence rather than any calculated economic strategy - hence the need for a simplification of the system. “When you increased trade protection, your imports went down, as did your exports,” he said, pointing to a strong correlation internationally between reduced tariffs and increased exports."

Read the full article

 

The Island: Harvard economist confused by ‘para tariffs’ in Sri Lanka

"However, even when infant industry protection is well–intentioned, it is difficult for governments to know which industries they should protect and to what extent they should do so, because goods and services of such infant industries may never grow up to enter the global market. In many cases, a tax on imports is a tax on exports. Hence tariffs such as these (para tariffs) could hurt the same industries the protectionist measures intend to help", he pointed out."

Read the full article

 

The Island: Leaders should be able to sell reforms to the ordinary people: Harvard economist

Reforms are best served when political leaders are good at communicating them to the ordinary people in a convincing way, whether they be fiscal consolidation, monetary policy, public spending, collection of state revenue, tariff frameworks or signing of free trade agreements, a Harvard economist said"

Read the full article

 

Daily News: Protectionist policies hurt Sri Lanka’s economy - Harvard economist

“90 percent of your tariffs should be in the simple schedule, and then there may be some exceptions,” he said. He added that those exceptions should be for firms that actually had long-run growth potential.

Read the full article

 

Daily Mirror: Tariffs, wrong way to raise revenue: Harvard academic

“What Sri Lanka needs is tariff reforms. What you need is simple and significantly lower tariffs. We are not saying you should move there overnight, in the sense, you need to have a long-term agenda in which you move to a much more simple system with significantly lower tariffs,” Prof. Lawrence said.

Read the full article

 

Sunday Observer: TARIFFS, NOT A REVENUE RAISING DEVICE - ECONOMIST

“One of the ideas we would like to promote is that Sri Lanka needs tariff reforms, by moving to lower and a simple tariff structure. We are not saying you should move there overnight, but you should have a long-run agenda to move in there gradually.“You might be surprised, but flat tariff rates get you more money than very high tariff rates that cuts off the import lines,” said Professor Lawrence who currently serves as Faculty Chair of The Practice of Trade Policy executive program at Harvard Kennedy School.

Read the full article

Dhananath Fernando wins $10,000 for Sri Lanka in Think Tank Shark Tank in Asia

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Advocata Chief Operating Officer Dhananath Fernando won the Asia Think Tank Shark Tank championship in Jakarta for a research study titled ‘Cost of Construction and Protectionism’. 

The Asia Think Tank Shark Tank is a championship for Asians to pitch their ideas on creating an impact in public policy to help economic prosperity in Asia. 

Dhananath contested in the final round with two fellow contestants from Nepal and Indonesia and won the Asia Think Tank Shark Tank Championship title with a $ 10,000 project grant for Sri Lanka to conduct the study. 

Dhananath made a strong case on the high cost of construction in Sri Lanka and highlighted that more than 10 million Sri Lankans would benefit if border taxes were brought down. He explained the total taxes at the border on wall tiles and floor tiles which is 108%, construction steel which is 90% and sanitary ware (commodes, squatting pans) which is 72% were completely unfair for a country where about 10 million people dream their entire life of building a basic house. He added that the cost of construction was 40%-60 % higher in Sri Lanka than the rest of the region which has negatively impacted the entire construction industry.

Dr. Chatib Basri - former Finance Minister of Indonesia and Ash Centre Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University; Prof. Razeen Sally from the National University of Singapore; Linda Whetstone - Chairperson at Atlas Network; Terry Kibbe – CEO and Co-founder of Free the People in the United States; and Siegfried Herzog - Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom were on the panel of judges

Dhananath is currently the Chief Operating Officer and a founding member of the Advocata Institute. He is a volunteer at Candle Aid Lanka, a humanitarian organisation and was a member of the founding team of the AK Lit Fest, a platform for local literature lovers. 

He hosts two flagship TV shows on ART Television namely ‘Public Space Sri Lanka’ and ‘Wake Up with ART’. 

He is a graduate of the Atlas Leadership Academy, Washington DC and a graduate from the University of Colombo in Bioscience and Biochemistry.

Ample opportunities for lankan BPOs in India

Originally appeared on Sunday Observer

‘Gap in market could be exploited’

The introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India from July this year has opened up an array of opportunities for Sri Lanka’s IT services sector to clinch projects from India’s smaller firms in the fields of accountancy and taxation services, a top former Indian bureaucrat said last week.

Speaking in a public virtual conversation with Chairman of the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka, Prof. Razeen Sally, the former secretary to the Ministry of Finance in India, Dr. Narayan said there is a gap in the Indian market where the Sri Lankan IT services industry can exploit because the big IT companies like InfoSys and Tata are so busy with government work and the smaller companies are finding it difficult to get their jobs done.

“There are opportunities for a small software firm, an accounting firm or a tax filing firm to do work virtually for the Smaller and Medium Indian Companies.

All that you need to do is to put out your availability out into the media and say that you are willing to do this work and work will come your way,” said Dr. Narayan, who also served as Economic Advisor to former Indian Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee said.

He said that in India a lot of tax filing work and others are now being increasingly done online following the introduction of GST in India on 1 July 2017 which replaced multiple cascading taxes levied by the central and state government.

“Large companies like Infosys, Wipro and Tata are handling big government work like driving licenses and vehicle registrations etc. So they are employing thousands of people to handle this while for GST there aren’t enough jobs available,” Dr. Narayan said. Hence, he said that for an ordinary business such a little company out there, they have to figure out the software and file it online.

“People are not available as everybody is busy with big work, while small firms are all blocked up,” said Dr. Narayan, who counts nearly four decades in public service in the State and Central Governments in India. The virtual conversation by Prof. Sally with Dr. Narayan was organized by Advocata, an independent policy think tank based in Colombo and was held at the MAS Innovation Centre.

Advocata hosts Facebook Live event with Dr Narayan

Dr Narayan, a former economic Adviser to the Indian Prime Minister says there’s ample opportunity to further India - Sri Lanka Trade.

Dr. Narayan, former secretary to the Indian Ministry of finance and former economic adviser to the Indian Prime minister, made such statements by pinpointing to several sectors where opportunity for growth is visible. One such area for Sri Lanka to exploit is the market for consumer goods, he said, given the nature of India’s vast internal market. He alluded to the current success of the export of Sri Lankan sausages as a case study for his claim. Sri Lankan sausages,  is preferred over local sausages , especially in Southern India, due to its higher quality, which results in gains in income for Sri Lankan sausage producers and exporters. At the same time, India benefits from higher quality when its local producers aim to perfect their production process to match the quality of Sri Lanka exports, which leads to mutual gains for both countries.

Dr. Narayan also pointed to the IT sector as an area filled with opportunities for Sri Lankan firms.  Despite India being an IT giant, and attracting a lot of IT related investment into key cities like Hyderabad and Bangalore, where you would expect Indian firms to dominate, there is so much scope for Sri Lankan IT firms to exploit. He claimed that since recently, many large Indian IT firms like Oracle have been preoccupied with government work alone, that they are missing out on other potential customers. This is what creates the market for Sri Lankan IT firms to target, and prosper in the process.

Such sentiments were expressed in a Facebook Live event organized by the Advocata Institute, held at the MAS innovation centre on the 21st of November. Dr. S. Narayan was joined by Professor Razeen Sally, associate professor of the National University of Singapore and the chairman of the Institute of Policy studies. The discussion progressed into a session of active engagement between the audience present at the venue and the audience connected through Facebook. Common questions asked were along the lines of whether India is a threat to Sri Lanka, bringing to light the transfer of professionals and skilled labour from India to Sri Lanka. The Facebook audience seemed concerned about the NT trade barrier removal and the degree of commitment India is showing to facilitate trade. Professor Sally went onto to ending the discussion on a light note, stating that we as Sri Lankans should be much more optimistic about Indo-Lanka relations and the opportunities that may arise from such a relationship.

 

Frank Lavin on President's Trump Asia Visit

Advocata advisor Ambassador Frank Lavin commented on U.S. President's Trump's five nation visit to Asia. Speaking to Forbes Ambassador Lavin says  "President Trump must go beyond merely asserting U.S. goals for the region and put forth a positive framework that allows for natural friends and allies to be supportive.".  

The 12 day trip that takes the President to China, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea and Philippines is important step in creating some coherence in the administration's policy toward Asia.  Observers are also looking for clues as to how President's stated trade policy of "America First" plays out in his dealings with these leading Asian countries.

Seasoned Trade policy expert Prof. Razeen Sally told forbes that "a worst case scenario would involve an escalation of threats from Trump towards Seoul that could cause a Korea-US FTA [KORUS] breakdown similar to NAFTA, thereby endangering the security relationship with South Korea and the regional geopolitical balance."

Another sticking point of the tour is how President Trump would deal with the increasingly tense relationship with North Korea. Ambassador Lavin says it's likely as a first step that the Trump administration would use the trip to make it known its solidarity with South Korea and that we could see increasing pressure on North Korea going forward.

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