Is­land in the ocean of op­por­tu­nity

The chal­lenge and the op­por­tu­nity to the coun­try is to be­come a world class marine and lo­gis­tics cen­tre for Asia, be­yond the cur­rent busi­ness model which is over de­pen­dent on trans­ship­ment

Maritime Gateway - - Contents -

The chal­lenge and the op­por­tu­nity to the coun­try is to be­come a world class marine and lo­gis­tics cen­tre for Asia.

The 13th-cen­tury Vene­tian trav­eler Marco Polo de­scribed Sri Lanka as be­ing “for its size, bet­ter cir­cum­stanced than any is­land in the world.” The coun­try’s lo­ca­tion ad­ja­cent to the busy main East West ship­ping route, makes it well con­nected for ship­ping to Asia, Europe, Africa and Mid­dle East link­ing the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent trade.

Sri Lanka is ide­ally lo­cated to con­nect con­ti­nents and be a cost­ef­fec­tive dis­tri­bu­tion hub as both Sin­ga­pore and Dubai are be­com­ing more ex­pen­sive for such ser­vices. The is­land is con­nected to the Mid­dleeast and the South-east Asia and the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent within three to four fly­ing hours, and by sea one to five days of tran­sit. This makes con­nec­tiv­ity very at­trac­tive and fast for both pas­sen­gers and cargo. There­fore, Sri Lanka will be the most log­i­cal lo­ca­tion be­tween Sin­ga­pore and Dubai to be es­tab­lished as a ma­jor eco­nomic cen­tre to fa­cil­i­tate the ever-in­creas­ing e-com­merce based busi­ness to cus­tomer ser­vice trade.

Colombo is ser­viced by all ma­jor ship­ping lines with a cur­rent through­put of 5.7+mil­lion teus and is ranked 23 among global con­tainer ports. Known as the main trans­ship­ment hub in South Asia con­nect­ing the re­gional economies Sri Lanka can be named as the emerg­ing Sin­ga­pore, Dubai or the Hong Kong as an is­land that will con­tinue to at­tract lo­gis­tics ser­vices. In­dia will be best con­nected via Sri Lanka link­ing both the East and West coast of In­dia more ef­fec­tively than any land trans­port model that could be de­vel­oped within In­dia. Colombo and Ham­ban­tota have new deep-wa­ter ter­mi­nals to ac­com­mo­date the lat­est ULCC, whilst Trin­co­ma­lee is a nat­u­ral deep-wa­ter port that can cater to mar­itime and lo­gis­tics reequip­ments of the Bay of Ben­gal re­gion.

The chal­lenge and the op­por­tu­nity to the coun­try is to be­come a world class marine and lo­gis­tics cen­tre for Asia, be­yond the cur­rent busi­ness model which is over de­pen­dent on trans­ship­ment. To be glob­ally com­pet­i­tive Sri Lanka will have to open the econ­omy fur­ther and cre­ate the con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment and at­tract global cap­i­tal through re­forms and con­tinue mod­erni­sa­tion of the busi­ness cli­mate.

The need of the hour is that Sri Lanka should put in a plan to at­tract global in­vestor interest to trans­form the lo­ca­tion into a ma­jor mar­itime and lo­gis­tics cap­i­tal in the world. The devel­op­ment of this ecosys­tem needs in­vestors with knowl­edge and busi­ness strengths to be part­ners in the devel­op­ment process. If the lo­ca­tion can be con­verted with right pol­icy with timely ex­e­cu­tion of re­forms and mod­erni­sa­tion into a suc­cess­ful eco­nomic, ship­ping and lo­gis­tics hub us­ing the In­dian Ocean and its sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­ment, then the coun­try can trans­form into a ma­jor fi­nan­cial cen­tre in South Asia. Cer­tainly, the is­land of Sri Lanka is in the “ocean of op­por­tu­nity” to be the hub for in­ter­na­tional trans­porta­tion and lo­gis­tics con­nect­ing South Asian trade to the world.

Colombo is ranked 23 among global con­tainer ports. Known as the main trans­ship­ment hub in South Asia con­nect­ing the re­gional economies Sri Lanka can be named as the emerg­ing Sin­ga­pore, Dubai or Hong Kong, as an is­land that will at­tract lo­gis­tics ser­vices.

Ro­han Masako­rala

CEO, Ship­pers' Academy, Colombo

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