A survey by JETRO, the Japanese Trade Promotion Organization, has revealed that Sri Lanka is a ‘bargain’ when it comes to labour considering the size of its economy. The report compares Sri Lanka’s per capita gross domestic product for 2015 ($3,924) against Indonesia’s ($3,377) in the same year in arriving at this conclusion.

Despite the surge in the per capita GDP since the end of the civil conflict in 2009, the average salaries of Sri Lanka’s manufacturing sector have not grown much. Accordingly the 2016 Survey among Japanese companies operating in Asia and Oceania, the average monthly base salary of a factory worker was $165. For a factory engineer, it was about $399, and for a manager it was $720. These are below the equivalents in Indonesia– $298,$449 and $993 The survey suggests that Sri Lanka is an ideal market for Japanese companies given that the country’s labour is cheaper compared to other countries in the region, despite the quality being relatively higher and the economy being bigger and steadier.

It indicated that even Cambodia whose per capita GDP is less than a third of that of Sri Lanka still has higher wage rates where a factory worker gets paid around $175 per month and an engineer and a manager takes home around $391 and $885 dollars respectively.

According to JETRO’s inquiries in Sri Lanka however, it was said that the demand for manpower in the country is shifting from manufacturing and other secondary industries to tertiary service industries.

Foreign Direct Investments in Sri Lanka in 2015 fell 36.6% to $970 million. But for the hotels and restaurants, FDI increased 2.7 times from a year before to $182 million accounting for 18.8% of all direct investment.

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