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Indian firms must invest in Sri Lanka port, envoy says

ECONOMYNEXT – India’s envoy in Sri Lanka has indicated Indian companies will invest in the island’s main port of Colombo, where a Chinese company has built and operates a container terminal.

“Colombo port infrastructure modernisation is important for India’s bilateral and global trade,” Y. K. Sinha, High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka, said.

“It is imperative Indian companies become stakeholders in Colombo port’s expansion,” he told the India – Sri Lanka Maritime Forum which preceded the Colombo International Maritime Conference last week.

Such investments need “to be done expeditiously” to sustain and enhance maritime co-operation between the two countries, he said.

Sinha noted that Colombo port was heavily dependent on Indian container transhipment cargo and that India was keen to boost trade and investment with the island.

The first deep-water container terminal in the new Colombo South Harbour was built and operated by the Chinese government-owned port operator, China Merchants Holdings (International).

The Chinese operated terminal twice hosted calls by Chinese attack submarines that took part in Indian Ocean anti-piracy patrols last year, causing alarm in India.

Sinha said India is partnering Sri Lanka in upgrading the island’s maritime infrastructure.

The northern port of Kankesanturai has been dredged with Indian aid with a breakwater and pier to be built with a soft loan from the Indian government.

“Once Kankesanturai harbour is fully rehabilitated it can be used as a commercial port facilitating movement of cargo and passengers from southern India and northern Sri Lanka,” Sinha said.

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India was also building a coal power plant in Trincomalee port and the local unit of Indian Oil Corp was also involved in operating oil tank farms in the harbour, Sinha said.  (Colombo/September 27 2015)

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