In August 2016, the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and the Building State Capability program of CID convened five teams of civil servants, tasking them with solving issues related to investment and export promotion. One of these teams, the “Targeting Team,” took on the task of formulating and executing a plan to identify promising new economic activities for investment and export promotion in Sri Lanka. With the assistance of CID’s Growth Lab, the Targeting Team assembled and analyzed over 100 variables from 22 datasets, studying all tradable activities and 29 representative subsectors. Their analysis highlighted the potential of investment related to electronics, electrical equipment and machinery (including automotive products), as well as tourism. Ultimately, the team’s recommendations were incorporated in GoSL strategies for investment promotion, export development, and economic diplomacy; extensions of the research were also used to help plan new export processing zones and target potential anchor investors.
This report summarizes the methodology and findings of the Targeting Team, including scorecards for each of the sectors studied.
Economies grow by adding new products and services to their production portfolio, not by producing more of the same kinds of products. The key to such diversification is access to know-how, but know-how often has to come from abroad. This is because it is often easier to move brains to new countries than to move new know-how into brains. In the experience of Singapore, India, Vietnam and most other dynamic economies, three channels of know-how transfer stand out: FDI, immigration and diaspora networks.
In this lecture, Professor Hausmann explores the relationship between economic development and the accumulation of know-how. In particular, he discusses how to tackle Sri Lanka’s limited export diversification.
Video - Acessing Know-how for Growth in Sri Lanka
Video - Full Q&A on Sri Lanka's export diversification
This note collects evidence related to possible constraints to economic growth, and their relation with GoSL’s industrial zone development agenda. We find that new zones are especially well-suited to help address Sri Lanka’s lack of industrial land and high policy uncertainty, both of which may be holding back growth. Less clear, however, are zones’ impact on Sri Lanka’s limited transport links beyond the Western Province. Finally, partnering with well-connected zone management companies may also help create opportunities to connect with firms in new, non-traditional sectors.
Throughout 2016, CID conducted a growth diagnostic analysis for Sri Lanka in collaboration 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.
How can the productive capabilities of each municipality be unleashed taking into consideration the resources available to them? A first pass at this ambitious question begins by understanding the set of outputs a municipality is capable of producing. We answer this by discovering relationships between agricultural inputs and outputs and ask a relatively simpler question: how similar are agricultural outputs in terms of the inputs they use? Answering this question is made difficult by the fact that most UPAs cultivate just one or two crops. This may be a rational response to economies of scale. Given a plot of land and inputs, it may be easier to cultivate one crop on the entire land than plant a number of them with each requiring a different care regimen3. It may be that the inputs available only allow for a few types of crops.
In this paper, we use the rural census data from Colombia to build an agricultural product space capturing the similarities between outputs. We test the predictive power of the product space and use this to answer the question above. In section 2, we discuss the various sources of data and how they are merged, cleaned, and transformed before processing. In section 3, we look at some high level features of the dataset and how inputs, outputs, and land use are related. In section 4, we explore the mechanics of diversification.
We construct similarity and density matrices and show that they do indeed predict what a municipality produces. Finally, in section 5 we use Machine Learning algorithms and the density matrices to predict municipalities that are best suited to produce a given output. Further, we identify "missing" municipalitiesoutput pairs i.e. municipalities that should be producing a given output at high yield but currently are not. Finally, we summarize our findings and suggest areas for further work.
The central question we will explore in this document is: Can we anticipate the opportunities that Colombian cities have to export specific products based on their existing productive capabilities?
In the following pages, we report a collection of results, analyses, and advances in which we assess how industry-related capabilities affect export possibilities. Our final goal will be to create a single measure that synthesizes all the knowledge and existing information about the productive capabilities of each city, both “horizontal” and “vertical”, and that quantifies how competitive a city can be if it aims at exporting a given product it does not yet export.
This document is broken in two main efforts: First, we want to understand the “mechanics” of diversification processes. And second, we want to be able to provide recommendations of products that are not produced in cities, but should be. The first effort requires a multitude of analyses, each trying to describe the characteristics of firms, of cities, and of the mechanisms that expand the export baskets of places. The second effort requires the development of a statistical model that is accurate when predicting the appearances of products in cities. These two efforts, explaining and predicting, are complementary, but different.
Explanations that lack the power of accurately predicting the future are useless in practice; predictions of phenomena for which we lack understanding are dangerous. But together they provide a unified story that can inform policy decisions.
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.
In this study, we analyzed Albania’s industrial exports using the frameworks of the Product Space and Economic Complexity in order to determine which products Albania could diversify into in the near future. In particular, we identified groups of products that are technologically close to those which Albania already exports and which at the same time are technologically more sophisticated (more complex) than Albania’s average exports. This analysis does not suggest that products that do not fulfill the criteria of technological proximity and product complexity should not be invested in. However, it suggests that some products may have higher chances of succeeding in Albania because of its existing technological capabilities, while also bringing about diversification towards more complex, higher value-added production.
We find that the top two sectors that satisfy the criteria of being in close proximity to the existing technological capabilities in Albania, while also having relatively highly complex products, are Plastics/Rubbers and Agriculture/Foodstuffs. Within each of these sectors, we list more specific products that make for good candidates for diversification.
Venezuela is at a breaking point. The political, economic, financial, social and humanitarian crisis that has gripped the country is intensifying. This unsustainable situation raises several urgent questions: Which path will the embattled OPEC country take out of the current turmoil? What type of political transition lies ahead? What short-term and long-term impact will the crisis have on its ailing oil industry, economy and bond debt? What would be the best and most effective prescription for oil and economic recovery under a new governance regime? To discuss these matters, the Center on Global Energy Policy brought together on June 19, 2017 a group of about 45 experts, including oil industry executives, investment bankers, economists and political scientists from leading think tanks and universities, consultants, and multilateral organization representatives. This note provides some of the highlights from that roundtable discussion, which was held under the Chatham House rule.
About four years ago, at the onset of CID’s engagement in Albania, the country faced two issues that were threatening its macro-fiscal stability: a skyrocketing public debt and an insolvent, publicly-owned electricity distribution system that was plagued by theft and technical inefficiency. These two interlinked issues constrained both short-term economic growth and the ability of the country to develop new drivers of long-term growth. Over the subsequent years, the government was able to successfully respond to these constraints through a now-concluded IMF program and through a series of reforms in the electricity sector. With these constraints now relaxed, CID saw the need for a new analysis of the current and emerging constraints to growth in Albania. This analysis will guide future research and inform the government and non-government actors on emerging economic issues for prioritization.
While growth has accelerated over the last several years, to over 3% in 2016, this is not a pace that will allow for a rapid convergence of incomes and well-being in Albania with that of developed countries in Europe and elsewhere. This growth diagnostic attempts to identify the binding constraint to sustainably higher economic growth in Albania.
Recognizing that economic growth requires a number of complementary inputs, from roads to human capital to access to finance and many more, this report compares across eight potentially binding constraints using the growth diagnostic methodology to identify which constraint is most binding. This research was conducted throughout 2016, building on prior research conducted by CID and other organizations in Albania. Each constraint discussed in this report is cited by analysts within or outside the country as the biggest problem for growth in Albania. Through the growth diagnostic framework, we are able to evaluate the evidence and show that some constraints are more binding than others.
Despite serious issues in many other areas, we find that the binding constraint to stronger growth in Albania is a lack of productive knowhow. By “knowhow,” we mean the knowledge and skills needed to produce complex goods and services. Albania faces a unique knowhow constraint that is deeply rooted in its closed-off past, and the limited diversification that has taken place in the private sector can, in nearly all cases, be linked to distinct inflows of knowhow. The strongest sources of knowhow inflows into Albania have been through foreign direct investment and immigration, especially returning members of the diaspora who start new businesses or upgrade the productivity of existing businesses.
The evidence also points to particular failings in rule of law in Albania that play an important role in keeping Albania in a low-knowhow equilibrium. Weaknesses in Albania’s rule of law institutions, including frequent policy reversals and corruption in the bureaucracy and judiciary, increase the risk of investments and transaction costs of business. While it is difficult to separate perceptions from reality in this area, both perceptions of weak rule of law and actual rule of law failings appear to play critical roles in constraining more diversified investment in Albania. We find that while existing firms in Albania successfully navigate the rule of law weaknesses, and in some cases benefit from the system, potential new investors are acutely sensitive to rule of law issues.
Credit market activity in Albania has been sluggish in recent years in spite of low and declining interest rates. The economy lost its growth momentum after 2009. Investment and lending activity slowed down substantially despite low interest rates, relative macroeconomic resilience, and available capacity in the private sector to take on more debt. This study analyzes the supply (lenders’) and demand (borrowers’) sides of the market.
The reason behind the credit market failure is a supply-demand mismatch. Poor financial intermediation is the main problem on the supply side. Despite excess liquidity in the financial sector, banks are excessively risk-averse, bank practices and products are unsophisticated, and non-bank financial market is underdeveloped. Excessive risk aversion translates into tight credit standards, credit rationing and credit crunch for some economic sectors, in particular those dominated by SMEs. On the demand side, firms overall have a low appetite to expand, limited capacity to create bankable and financially viable projects, and are also constrained by infrastructural gaps and economic uncertainty. The mismatch results from the fragmentation of the credit market, with reliable borrowers from traditional sectors having easy access to finance, and other segments being almost fully deprived of credit.
Government and donor-led policies to mitigate the problem have had little success. Albania enjoys access to a number of domestic and external funding schemes primarily focused on alleviating funding constraints for credit-deprived sectors, but these programs have been ineffective. Further study is needed to understand the reasons behind the limited success of these programs.
A National Development Bank (NDB) could address some of the observed credit market challenges. While an NDB’s ability to directly resolve demand-side constraints would be limited, an NDB could effectively tackle supply-side constraints in the credit market as well as provide surveillance and collect information from the private sector, leverage technical assistance, and develop tailored financial products. Establishing an NDB should be considered carefully, taking into account functional, governance, funding, staffing and other risk factors.
In late 2015, CID was requested to conduct an initial analysis of constraints to sustained and inclusive economic growth in Sri Lanka. The findings of this analysis were presented at the Sri Lanka Economic Forum in Colombo in January 2016. This presentation outlined the initial findings and offered a series of questions that were then discussed at length with policymakers and academics during the two-day forum. The initial analysis found that recent growth and the sustainability of growth moving forward are constrained by weakness in Sri Lanka’s balance of payments, where a trade imbalance combined with low levels of foreign direct investment effectively puts a speed limit on economic growth. While monetary and exchange rate policy could be used to soften this constraint, solving the underlying problem requires structural transformation, which has proven difficult in Sri Lanka. At the same time, the analysis identified the government’s inability to raise revenues as a major risk that threatens to be more binding moving forward. Finally, the analysis identified the primary dimensions of inequality in the country as between regions and between cities and rural areas.
By request of the Government of Sri Lanka, CID reviewed edible oils exports in September 2016 based on the latest available international trade data. The analysis identified the products and markets key to Sri Lanka’s edible oils sector and compared with competitor countries. Although edible oils are non-complex products that make up a small share of the country’s total exports (0.5% in 2014), they help to diversify Sri Lankan exports and may serve as stepping stones toward further diversification into other more complex exports in the future. Coconut oil, which made up 86% of Sri Lanka’s edible oils exports in 2014, is particularly promising, with exports growing by more than a factor of 10 in just five years and much room to grow based on global demand.
In October 2016, at the request of the Government of Sri Lanka and in advance of a investment promotion trip to Japan, this presentation was prepared to experiment with new forms of communication to Japanese industry groups. CID used export data, qualitative research on companies, and comparative work on free trade agreements to identify promising opportunities for Japanese investment in Sri Lanka in targeted sectors, which were emerging through work by Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade with the support of CID.