Connecting Asia
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Connecting Asia

Infrastructure for Integrating South and Southeast Asia

  • ADBI series on Asian Economic Integration and Cooperation

Edited by Michael G. Plummer, Peter J. Morgan and Ganeshan Wignaraja

This book analyses how closer regional connectivity and economic integration between South Asia and Southeast Asia can benefit both regions, with a focus on the role played by infrastructure and public policies in facilitating this process. Country studies of national connectivity issues and policies cover Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand, examining major developments in South Asia–Southeast Asia trade and investment, economic cooperation, the role of economic corridors, and regional cooperation initiatives. Thematic chapters explore investment in land and sea transport infrastructure, trade facilitation, infrastructure investment financing, supporting national and regional policies, and model-based estimates of the benefits of integration. Employing a state-of-the-art computable general equilibrium (CGE) model, the book provides a detailed an up-to-date discussion of issues, innovations and progress.
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Chapter 13: Sri Lanka: regional sea transport hub

Dushni Weerakoon and Nipuni Perera

Abstract

As an island economy, Sri Lanka’s regional connectivity has been mainly through its main seaport in Colombo, a transshipment hub port for South Asia. Investments to expand capacity at Colombo port are under way as part of Sri Lanka’s renewed efforts to develop its infrastructure following the long internal separatist conflict that ended in 2009. Despite significant improvements in physical infrastructure connectivity, Sri Lanka has made only limited headway in strengthening its trade and investment links with the rest of the region. Moreover, the country has seen a sharp decline in its overall exports-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio, which is worrying in view of the growing external debt financing of many large infrastructure projects through state-led investment initiatives. Thus, Sri Lanka needs to focus on two priority areas: engaging private investment in infrastructure by strengthening the country’s institutional and regulatory environment; and implementing a more strategic trade policy geared to enhance regional integration efforts.

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