By:Staff WriterColombo (LNW): The Sri Lanka government has taken measures to implement new initiatives to further enhance collaboration with Bangladesh in the shipping sector.
Ports, Shipping and Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva together with State Minister of Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya held discussions last week with State Minister of Shipping in Bangladesh holding Cabinet rank, Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury focusing on these new initiatives
Minister De Silva emphasised the importance of shipping connectivity as one of the key areas selected for bilateral collaboration, especially in the context that 40% of Bangladesh’s exports, mainly apparel, which are bound to Western Europe and US, are transported from Chattogram using the Port of Colombo.
Both Ministers agreed on the necessity of finalising the proposed Agreement on Coastal Shipping between the two countries and also the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to facilitate the Feeder Services between the ports of Colombo and Chattogram.
They decided to form a Working Group of legal experts to finalise the legal issues, if any, relating to pending bilateral instruments and to also form an additional working group to discuss the operational related issues.
The second session of the Joint Working Group and Joint Secretary level talks will be held in Sri Lanka during the course of the year.
Minister De Silva explained the facilities offered through the terminals of Colombo Port and the cost and time efficiency that Bangladeshi exporters can enjoy by using the Port of Colombo.
He further informed about the ongoing development projects related to the shipping sector as well as the port development projects in the northern part of Sri Lanka and invited Bangladesh investors to invest in Sri Lanka’s shipping sector through Public Private Partnerships.
State Minister of Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya explained the promising opportunities available for cooperation in the areas of fishing and blue economy between the countries and invited the Bangladesh authorities to collaborate with Sri Lanka for the mutual benefit of both countries.
Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva and State Minister Tharaka Balasuriya were in Dhaka to attend the sixth Indian Ocean Conference.
Sri Lankan businessmen have invested US$4.5 billion in various sectors of Bangladesh, including the ready-made garment sector, and are keen to invest more due to the country’s stable political situation.
The Sri Lankan private sector is ready to invest in Chattagram and Payra ports, creating a new paradigm of Sri Lankan businessmen investing in Bangladesh,” he said.
“Despite being two small countries in the Indian Ocean region, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka hold significant importance due to their geography.
We are grateful to Bangladesh because many export products go through Colombo port. We want to increase it further. It saves Bangladesh time and money,” said the Sri Lankan minister.
Port City set to boost Sri Lankan economy via Special Economic Zone
Port City Colombo is set to reach its highest level of activity as the region’s first multi-currency, service export Special Economic Zone.
The 5-year roll-out plan envisages $ 5.6 billion in FDI which will fast-track Sri Lanka’s economic recovery, positioning both Port City and Sri Lanka as a leading player in the service export industry.
“Port City Colombo will help drive Sri Lanka’s new phase of growth and will be a significant contributor to the country’s GDP and BOP.
Our focus will be to drive the future economy by attracting more green-field FDIs in key sectors while strengthening the country’s competitiveness within the region,” said CHEC Port City Deputy Managing Director Thulci Aluwihare.
Poised to be Sri Lanka’s largest development project since the Mahaweli Development, Port City Colombo is expected to create over 140,000 direct job opportunities and contribute $13.8 billion to the GDP of Sri Lanka annually.
Spanning 269 Ha of ocean reclamation, Port City Colombo is Sri Lanka’s first special economic zone dedicated for exports of services.
Established under the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Act No 11 of 2021, the Special Economic Zone was created to attract businesses engaged in global and regional trade, maritime services, banking and financial services, information technology, professional/ knowledge services, corporate headquarter operations, tourism and other ancillary services.
Since the commencement of the project, a contribution of $ 3 billion was made to the country’s GDP, creating 12,000 direct jobs and training for 4,000 Sri Lankan workers across over 20 Sri Lankan sub-contractors.
Land reclamation alone resulted in Sri Lankan companies providing over 5 million tons of stone, 12 million litres of fuel, 80,000 tons of cement and 1,200 tons of steel.
With Sri Lanka›s economic crisis prompting a mass exodus of skilled workers to relocate, Port City Colombo as a Service Export hub will open doors for global brands to set up within the zone with over 70% of employment created in modern services (PwC Economic Impact, November 2021).
The GoSL will see a significant increase in economic activity spurred by Businesses of Strategic Importance inducing multiple sources of fiscal revenue.
An estimated fiscal revenue of $ 1.7 billion is expected at the construction stage while a recurring revenue of approximately $ 700 million per annum is expected at the operational stage of the project.
Port City Colombo’s strategy will see it become a global centre for business and innovation, with a significant positive impact on Sri Lanka’s economy.
The Project is now seeing heightened interest from investors and businesses looking to establish a presence within Port City Colombo to access opportunities particularly in South-Asia as one of the world’s fastest growing regions.