Sri Lanka eyes Chinese partners for Hambantota port, Mattala airport

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is in talks to forge partnerships with Chinese firms to make Hambantota port and Mattala airport built with Chinese debt commercially viable, State Minister for International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe said.

At the moment Sri Lanka Ports Authority cannot generate cash from Hambantota port to repay its loans and Mattala airport is also a drain on the finances of Airport and Aviation Services, a state-run airport agency.

Senasinghe said the Hambantota port and airport along with an investment zone for Chinese will be an overall package that will bring large volumes of investments to the country later this year.

He said talks with Chinese government was progressing and he could not yet name the specific firm that will partner with the airport.

Sri Lanka is expecting to iron out agreements on the airport and ports as well as a 1.4 billion US dollar ‘Port City’ sea reclamation by the time Prime Minister Ranil Wickemasinghe visits  China, he said.

China’s Cosco Shipyard Group Company Ltd and China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd are studying the feasibility of building a 600 million dollars shipyard in Hambantota.

There is already an existing memorandum of understanding signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping to build a container terminal in Hambantota on a supply operate transfer (SOT) basis.