This chapter evaluates the economic impacts of SAFTA relative to alternative trade policies to determine which policies best deliver increased welfare to citizens, thereby helping to alleviate income disparities and poverty in the region. The study does so with a particular emphasis on the income inequality and poverty effects of trade liberalisation in South Asia on households in Sri Lanka. A static multi-country computable general equilibrium model for South Asia (SAMGEM) is formulated by incorporating a multiple household framework into the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) model. A non-parametric extended representative household agent approach is used to estimate the income inequality and poverty effects of trade liberalisation in South Asia by using micro-household survey data. The findings revealed that amongst the different trade policy options considered, unilateral trade liberalisation ensures the highest welfare to all South Asian members followed by the customs union (with the exception of Sri Lanka) and the SAFTA. The poverty and income equality analysis for the Sri Lankan economy suggests that poverty is predominant in the rural and the estate sectors and Sri Lanka can achieve a significant progress towards poverty reduction as a result of implementing trade reforms.
Part of the book: Poverty, Inequality and Policy