Working Papers

New Working Paper Released: ‘Sri Lanka – Singapore FTA Four Years On’

In May 2022, the Sri Lanka – Singapore Free Trade Agreement (SLSFTA) marked four years since coming into force - an FTA that was a landmark one for Sri Lanka in many respects. It was the country’s first bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) in over a decade, the first FTA with an ASEAN country, and the first ‘comprehensive FTA’ in the country’s history, which meant that it went beyond goods, to include services, investment, and economic and technology cooperation. This Working Paper reviews bilateral trade performance, explains some of the key domestic economic policy contexts during and after the FTA was signed, discusses some of the key issues that emerged, and takes an initial look at prospects. Research for the paper was drawn not only from published grey material but also from extensive primary interviews with key informants. Insights shared in this paper would be of particular relevance now, following the bilateral meeting between the Sri Lankan President and the Singaporean Prime Minister (on the sidelines of the former's visit to Japan), during which the two leaders recommitted to benefiting from the SLSFTA and advancing its implementation. This Working Paper is produced under the 'Trade and Economic Competitiveness' thematic pillar of CSF, and is co-authored by Anushka Wijesinha (Co-founder, CSF) and Janaka Wijayasiri (Visiting Fellow, CSF).

New Working Paper Released: ‘Governance of Digital Technologies in South Asia’

Across the world, the rise of digital technologies has been accompanied by attempts to regulate the use of these applications and their impact on society. The growing salience of cybersecurity and data privacy, alongside concerns over content moderation and facial recognition, have highlighted the need for governments and businesses to adopt stricter regulations to address the ethical, political, and legal issues related to the use of digital technologies, while simultaneously harnessing their social and economic potential. Regulating the digital domain is arguably one of the most important cross-cutting issues facing governments, with wide-ranging implications for businesses, civil society organisations, and the public. In this context, this paper seeks to understand the status of digital governance in South Asia, with a specific focus on Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, which are the key Indian Ocean rim countries in this region. To that end, the research explores four major thematic areas - cybersecurity, data protection, artificial intelligence, and mis/disinformation - the choice of which is informed by their significance for South Asian countries.