• Sri Lanka

    Growth & Transformation

    CID's Growth Lab is doing in-depth, tailored analysis of Sri Lanka's economy – to diagnose growth constraints

  • Colombo Harbor Sri Lanka

    Trade Development

    Conducting research into reforming and improving Sri Lanka’s trade policy and implementation of trade commitments

About

In 2015, Sri Lanka elected a new government with a vision of promoting sustainable development and reconciliation. The Center for International Development at Harvard University is collaborating with the Government of Sri Lanka through a grant by the Open Society Foundations (OSF) to provide research support to help the country move toward this future. Read more >>

 

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New Research

Sri Lanka Growth Diagnostic

1/2018. Sri Lanka Growth Diagnostic.Abstract

Throughout 2016, CID conducted a growth diagnostic analysis for Sri Lanka in partnership with the Government of Sri Lanka, led by the Prime Minister’s Policy Development Office (PDO), and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). This presentation report aggregates collaborative quantitative and qualitative analysis undertaken by the research team. This analysis was originally provided to the Government of Sri Lanka in April 2017 in order to make available a record of the detailed technical work and CID’s interpretations of the evidence. A written executive summary is provided here as a complement to the detailed presentation report. Both the report and the executive summary are structured as follows. First, the analysis identifies Sri Lanka’s growth problem. It then presents evidence from diagnostic tests to identify what constraints are most responsible for this problem. Finally, it provides a summary of what constraints CID interprets as most binding and suggests a “growth syndrome” that underlies the set of binding constraints.

 

In brief, this growth diagnostic analysis shows that economic growth in Sri Lanka is constrained by the weak growth of exports, particularly from new sectors. Compared to other countries in the region, Sri Lanka has seen virtually no diversification of exports over the last 25 years, especially in manufactured goods linked through FDI-driven, global value chains. We found several key causes behind this lack of diversified exports and FDI: Sri Lanka’s ineffective land-use governance, underdeveloped industrial and transportation infrastructure, and a very high level of policy uncertainty, particularly in tax and trade policy. We believe that these issues trace back to an underlying problem of severe fragmentation in governance, with a critical lack of coordination between ministries and agencies with overlapping responsibilities and decision-making authority.

Sri Lanka Growth Conundrum

Sri Lanka Product Space Clusters

Sri Lanka Growth Diagnostic Summary of Findings

Sri Lanka Growth Syndrome

 
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Immigration Policy Research

2017. Immigration Policy Research.Abstract

Immigration and Economic Transformation: A Concept Note

Ljubica Nedelkoska, Tim O’Brien, Ermal Frasheri, Daniel Stock

In May 2017, CID prepared a concept note that described the connection between immigration and knowhow transfer internationally and profiled the current state of low immigration levels and immigration policy issues in Sri Lanka. The note identifies immigration policy reform as an important area of opportunity for unleashing higher levels of entrepreneurship and the introduction of new knowhow for economic diversification in Sri Lanka, but stops short of providing specific recommendations. Instead, the note lays out broad ideas for making immigration policy more flexible and encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to activate a cross-government policy team that is capable of developing reforms that meet Sri Lanka’s particular needs. 

A Comparative View on of Immigration Frameworks in Asia: Enhancing the Flow of Knowledge through Migration

Ermal Frasheri, Ljubica Nedelkoska, Sehar Noor, Tim O’Brien

Later in 2017, at the request of a policy team of the Government of Sri Lanka, CID conducted research to compare immigration policy frameworks in other countries in Asia to understand promising policy options for Sri Lanka. Our resulting research note focuses on Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Singapore. We find that the immigration policies of the six countries vary across numerous dimensions as each country prioritizes attracting the talents, skills and resources it needs from abroad in different ways. These variations provide a range of examples that may be relevant to decision-makers in Sri Lanka. Additionally, we find an emerging pattern among the six countries where more developed economies tend to have more elaborate immigration systems and target a more diverse set of people. By looking at available data, we also confirm that more elaborate immigration systems are closely associated with more actual immigration, higher presence of foreign firms, and higher levels of foreign direct investment (FDI) among this group of countries. Based on the comparative analysis, together with the issues identified by the Department of Immigration and Emigration’s Gap Analysis, it is possible to identify a number of principles around which future immigration reform in Sri Lanka should be organized. 

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Learning to Improve the Investment Climate for Economic Diversification: PDIA in Action in Sri Lanka

Matt Andrews, Duminda Ariyasinghe, Amara S. Beling, Peter Harrington, Tim McNaught, Fathima Nafla Niyas, Anisha Poobalan, Mahinda Ramanayake, H. Senavirathne, Upatissa Sirigampala, Renuka M. Weerakone, and W. A. F. Jayasiri Wijesooriya. 10/2017. “Learning to Improve the Investment Climate for Economic Diversification: PDIA in Action in Sri Lanka”. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Many countries, like Sri Lanka, are trying to diversify their economies but often lack the capabilities to lead diversification programs. One of these capabilities relates to preparing the investment climate in the country. Many governments tackle this issue by trying to improve their scores on ‘Doing Business Indicators’ which measure performance on general factors affecting business globally (like how long it takes to open a business or pay taxes). Beyond these common indicators, however, investors face context specific challenges when working in countries like Sri Lanka that are not addressed in global indicators. Governments often lack the capabilities to identify and resolve such issues. This paper narrates a recent initiative to establish these capabilities in Sri Lanka. The initiative adopted a Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) process, where a team of Sri Lankan officials worked with Harvard Center for International Development (CID) facilitators to build capabilities over a six-month period. The paper tells the story of this process, providing documented evidence of the progress over time (and describing thinking behind the PDIA process as well). The paper will be of interest to those thinking about the challenges associated with creating a climate that is investor or business friendly and to those interested in processes (like PDIA) focused on building state capability and fostering policy implementation.

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