Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have finalised the much awaited Coastal Shipping Agreement, and it will be signed shortly, Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama told a recent forum in Colombo.
The agreement will allow third party access for Sri Lankan vessels to East Indian ports, he said.
“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.”
Smarawickrama emphasised that in line with the fourth industrial revolution and the growth of e-commerce and B2C trade driven by digital, MCC would be a great boost to Colombo’s attractiveness as a hub for ‘3rd party logistics’ or ‘3PL’.
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.”