This article is with reference to Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka’s write-up published on Colombo Telegraph dated 07th April 2017. It was titled, “The aurudu sale of Sri Lanka-Who will stop it?” The writer makes a very valid point arguing the case for Sri Lanka to be with China as opposed to India. He also criticizes the prime ministers vision of the ECTA agreement with India and rightly so. It simply does not make any economic and geo-political sense.
This article is an attempt to compare both India and China in economic/geo-political terms, keeping Sri Lanka in the context.
The Economic Context
It is a well established fact that China enjoys far greater economic supremacy as opposed to India. The below table provides some information on key economic indicators comparing the two countries.
It is clear beyond any doubt that China reigns above India in all major economic indicators. The Chinese economy is at least 3 times bigger. The biggest advantage China has its workforce, which is double the size of India. It is also worth mentioning, China is the world’s largest exporter valued at 2.21 trillion as of 2013 versus India’s 313 billion. China is also the second largest provider of foreign direct investment in the world, providing $115 billion in the year of 2016.
Henceforth, it makes perfect economic sense for Sri Lanka to peruse its diplomatic efforts more inclined towards China. During the post-war era China has made unprecedented investment in infrastructure development of Sri Lanka. More importantly, China has shown a more result oriented approach to investment. India on the other hand has decreased its financial assistance to Srilanka as revealed by their finance minister Arun Jetly in his last budget.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s inclination to the ECTA agreement does not make any sense for Sri Lankans as India’s commitment to the development of Srilanka is questionable. I conclude, China has a far more important and greater role to play if Sri Lanka is to realize its economic potential.