Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have finalised the much awaited coastal shipping agreement between the two countries.
Sri Lankan Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama told a recent forum in Colombo that the deal will be signed shortly.
The agreement will allow third party access for Sri Lankan vessels to East Indian ports, he was quoted as saying in a report carried out by the Daily Mirror of Sri Lanka.
“Coastal Shipping agreement between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will be signed very soon after receiving Cabinet approval, which will also permit third country port usage— meaning ports in east coast of India can be used,” he said.
The bilateral deal is expected to cut down both the transhipment cost and time between Chittagong and Colombo, boosting competitiveness.
Speaking of the plans to position Sri Lanka as a hub for multi-country consolidation (MCC) services, Samarawickrama said, “MCC refers to the logistics activity where less-than-container load (LCL) cargos from different origins are combined into a full container load (FCL) and shipped to their destinations.
It optimises cargo flows and reduces international transport costs for firms. It is especially useful for SMEs that ship small volumes and for large companies that source small volumes of goods from multiple countries or suppliers.”
He also acknowledged the importance of having efficient and cost-effective logistics and shipping services for Sri Lankan exporters to become competitive in the world.
While noting that Colombo port has been outperforming other ports in the region, Samarawickrama stressed, “We cannot afford to rest on our laurels. Other hubs in the region are forging ahead with reforms and new projects.
“We had postponed much needed reforms. There is a lot of talk about the potential, but not enough on the actual things that we need to do to realise this potential. This MCC project will be a very specific and impactful initiative that will help to realise this potential.
“It will complement the other ongoing reforms that we are doing, to make Sri Lanka an attractive place to invest, and be an attractive hub for trade.”