Japan, India and Sri Lanka to develop Colombo

Port of Colombo The MOU will see the Port of Colombo's East container terminal developed. Credit: Sri Lanka Ports Authority
Industry Database

The governments of Japan, India and Sri Lanka have agreed to jointly develop the Port of Colombo to increase the port's container volume and enhance marine transportation in and around South Asia.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is expected to be signed by the three partners by summer and work will begin by next March, reported Nikkei Asian Review.

Japan, India and Sri Lanka will develop the East container terminal, located at the south part of the Sri Lankan port, which has been newly expanded. They will deepen it and develop a facility to allow large container ships to enter.

The Port of Colombo has attracted major investment from China under its Belt and Road initiative, while Sri Lanka’s Port of Hambantota is already under the control of China Merchants Port Holdings Company Limited.

Japan steps up

Japanese official development assistance will finance a portion of the project and Japan also aims to play a significant role in the area, pushing its Free and Open Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean strategy.

The country has expressed concern about the development of the project. According to Nikkei Asian Review, a Japanese government source said: "If the development of the Port of Colombo takes time, cargo might be transferred to Hambantota."

Colombo is the largest port in Sri Lanka, through which 90% of the country's seaborne goods pass. It connects Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. It had traffic of 6.21m teus in 2017, making it Southwest Asia's busiest port.

By Rebecca Jeffrey

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