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The Chief Economist of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Anushka Wijesinha recently encouraged the private sector to look at Product Design Innovation & being more open to International Trade. Wijesinghe made his comments speaking at the 23rd AGM of Sri Lanka-Indonesia Business Council on July 29, 2016, at Ripta Loka hall at the Indonesian Embassy premises.

“Innovation is the key part for an economy to grow wider. We should focus on Innovation in designs and processes. Product design in innovation is something that often gets missed. The beauty of product design innovation is that you design and certify once and you build and sell for millions. It requires less R&D but it has a huge catalytic impact on taking us into new paths. Reversing some of the negative impacts from the past and the present requires some difficult reforms. But as a country we are going to have to quickly and systematically re-orient our trade and investment policies” said Anushka.

“Over the last decade or so, we have slipped back substantially on trade openness. And that’s why today I wanted to focus on Sri Lanka being more open to the world. Trade, exports plus imports, now forms a much smaller share of our GDP than ever before. We used to be a nation where trade formed close to 80% of our GDP around 2004. By 2015 this had fallen to 55%. Let’s compare that to some other leading economies in the region that are doing well. Vietnam’s trade to GDP ratio is now around 170%. Malaysia is 150%. Thailand is 120%. And of course Singapore, an outlier, is at 350%. But all of this indicates the degree to which their economies and their growth is actually driven by international trade. We are a small country with a small domestic market and without International trade we really cannot achieve high growth.”