PRESS RELEASE February 27, 2019

Increased Exports in Sri Lanka Can Improve Jobs, Raise Wages

COLOMBO, February 26, 2019. Labor market policies can help different groups of workers to acquire the right skills and to ensure that the gains of more exports are shared more broadly across society.

A new report, Exports to Jobs: Boosting the Gains from Trade in South Asia”, launched today in Colombo, shows that increasing exports would boost average wages.

. It uses an innovative approach, analyzing the effect on local employment and wages of changes in exports by combining disaggregated data from household-level or worker-level surveys with trade data from India and Sri Lanka. The approach builds on a new wave of research looking at how globalization might contribute to local jobs and wages, but, unlike previous studies, it focuses on exports.

, while ensuring that the benefits of higher exports are shared more broadly,” said Gladys Lopez-Acevedo, World Bank Lead Economist and one of the report’s authors. “Addressing constraints that prevent people from moving and from switching to new jobs is important.”

. Improving workers’ skills, getting women and youth into more jobs, and addressing distortions that make labor mobility costly are some of the recommended policy actions.

“Economists and policy makers need a better understanding of how exactly globalization affects both workers and national labour markets,” said Daniel Samaan, Senior Economist, ILO Research Department and one of the report’s authors. .”

Sri Lanka grew at an average rate of 5.8 percent between 2010-2017, and the number of people living in poverty also fell. However, many Sri Lankans still don’t have regular jobs in the formal economy and there are large differences in wages across regions and worker characteristics. Sri Lanka’s exports have fallen from a high of 39 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2000 to only 21.4 percent of GDP in 2016, with export growth limited to a few industries such as textiles, apparel and agriculture. With the right policies, Sri Lanka can ensure that greater export orientation can boost the workers’ gains from trade and spread them more widely, so benefiting disadvantaged groups.


PRESS RELEASE NO: SAR/2019

Contacts

World Bank
Dilinika Peiris
Colombo
+94 (011) 5561347
dpeiris@worldbank.org
Elena Karaban
Washington
+1 (202) 473-9277
ekaraban@worldbank.org
ILO
Sandra Senaratne
Colombo
sandra@ilo.org
Api
Api