NTP should focus on unilateral trade reforms – Prof. Sally

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By 2017-06-19

By Umesh Moramudali

The National Trade Policy (NTP) should focus on unilateral trade reforms, not Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), Chairman of the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) Prof. Razeen Sally opined.

Sally, who is Associate Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, at the National University of Singapore,...... during an interview with Ceylon Today, noted that giving prominence to FTAs in trade policy instead of unilateral reforms would allow the external forces and narrow mercantilism to dictate trade policy.

"It's a common mistake to think that FTAs are the primary solution. It's a very narrow view of how trade works. It's a very mercantilist view of trade in which emphasize is given to exchanging export concessions. Most important reforms are unilateral reforms. So that the government goes for trade reforms for the benefit of the country in non discriminatory way," he added. Adding that thus far the Government had not promoted unilateral trade promoting, he claimed that the Government hasn't really had a plan for national trade reforms.

He said there was no action on that front and national trade policy was being led by three FTAs with China, India and Singapore. China and India are big markets and that is one argument to justify the action. Singapore is much smaller market, but easy to do an FTA with as it is an open market. Also that could be a testing ground for negotiations, he added.

He added, giving much emphasis to FTAs ends up being politically counterproductive as FTAs seems to serve the interest of bigger countries. He added that ETCA seems politically difficult at the moment and was made more difficult given the way it is done.
"If it was a part of a national reform strategy, rather than something left to a trade negation with the biggest neighbour it might have been more feasible," he added.

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