© 1998

Trade Liberalization in Sri Lanka

Exports, Technology and Industrial Policy


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxiii
  2. Introduction and Analytical Framework

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Ganeshan Wignaraja
      Pages 3-9
    3. Ganeshan Wignaraja
      Pages 11-52
  3. Explaining Overall Export Performance in Sri Lanka

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 53-53
    2. Ganeshan Wignaraja
      Pages 55-75
    3. Ganeshan Wignaraja
      Pages 77-86
    4. Ganeshan Wignaraja
      Pages 87-129
    5. Ganeshan Wignaraja
      Pages 131-150
    6. Ganeshan Wignaraja
      Pages 151-160
  4. Explaining Firm-Level Export Performance in Sri Lanka

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 161-161
    2. Ganeshan Wignaraja
      Pages 163-170
    3. Ganeshan Wignaraja
      Pages 171-185
  5. Conclusion

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 227-227
    2. Ganeshan Wignaraja
      Pages 229-238
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 239-282

About this book


The East Asian experience suggests that technological development is fundamental to export success in outward-oriented economies. This study analyses export performance in Sri Lanka at a national and firm level, focusing on the acquisition of industrial technological capabilities during a period of trade liberalization. It compares Sri Lanka's record with Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. Analysis of the export and technological record of enterprises of varying performance highlights the policies which enhance competitiveness in developing and transition economies.


development East Asia Export research trade

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Export and Industrial Development DivisionCommonwealth SecretariatLondonUK

About the authors

GANESHAN WIGNARAJA is Chief Programme Officer at the Export and Industrial Development Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat in London and works on manufactured export competitiveness, private sector development and industrial policies in Asian and African economies. He received a doctorate in economics from the University of Oxford and has worked for the OECD Development Centre in Paris, the Institute of Economics and Statistics, University of Oxford and Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford and the Economic Affairs Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat. He has acted as an adviser to the governments of Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Zimbabwe and Pakistan among others and as a consultant to the World Bank, the IFC, the OECD, the UN World Institute of Development Research, the ILO, UNRISD and USAID. He has published widely on trade and industrial policies, structural adjustment, industrial technology and enterprise development. His books include The Postwar Evolution of Development Thinking with Charles Oman, Participatory Development: Learning from South Asia with Ponna Wignaraja, Akmal Hussein and Harsh Sethi, and Technology and Enterprise Development: Ghana under Structural Adjustment with Sanjaya Lall, Giorgio Barba-Navaretti and Simon Teitel.

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors
Finance, Business & Banking


'Sri Lanka is often considered a case of successful export-led industrialization. Is it the first economy in South Asia to emulate the East Asian 'tiger' economies? An illustration of the benefits of liberalization? A success for 'market friendly' policies that leave resource allocation to the market and eschew picking winners? To some extent yes, but with important reservations. The narrow and vulnerable base of Sri Lanka's industrial and export growth means that its sustainability is not assured. Wignaraja shows how Sri Lanka's failure to mount similar industrial policies to the East Asian tigers has led to curtailed development. With its blend of trade theory, comparative industrial policy analysis, econometric work and enterprise case studies this work will be of value to all those who seek to understand trade and industrial policy in developing countries.' - Sanjaya Lall

'Dr Wignaraja is a rare economist who can put the important lessons of mainstream economics into the wider context that good policy demands. This book is yet another demonstration of this ability, displayed to advantage in discussing the architecture of trade policy. It should be read by all policy-makers who want to make a difference.' - Jagdish Bhagwati

'An important book by a highly capable economist, blending up-to-date theory and analysis with original research. His study will be read with profit by anyone interested in understanding or making policy on how developing countries learn to manufacture and export in today's competitive world.' - Robert Cassen