Stakeholders call for increase of port capacity in Sri Lanka | Daily News

Stakeholders call for increase of port capacity in Sri Lanka

Urge policy consistency and timely action on port infrastructure development

Leading port services industry stakeholders noted that investments into port infrastructure greatly lagged the growth in the demand for port services in Sri Lanka. They complained about the lack of policy consistency and timely action on developing the port infrastructure.

South Asia Gateway Terminals CEO, Romesh David called for the increase of port capacity in Sri Lanka. He said, “We are waiting for capacity to become a crush before adding capacity. Logistics beyond the Port Gate is still weak. There isn’t a single global third-party logistics player in the country. We must change if suppliers to the region are to be located in Sri Lanka.”

David was speaking on June 2 to the American Chamber of Commerce on a webinar on the role of logistics.

David said, “There is a real opportunity to become a gateway to the mass of consumption that will occur when the global economy shifts from the US to the Far East and Asia.” Sri Lankan lies within a 2-hour flight radius of 25% of the world’s population and 5 hours within 50% of the world’s population. David called on the need for policy consistency for the realization of Sri Lanka’s envisioned global hub status. David said, “There are major global service sector economies that can’t even talk of that sort of access. We must show the world that we are here for business.”

McLarens Group Managing Director Shehara Jayawardana noted that import/export trade is not what drives the Sri Lankan port economy. Import/export is less than 18% of the port’s volume. Jayawardena noted that there was a large scope to become part of the global shipping economy by amending the policy to be more favorable for ship owners to obtain flags of origin from Sri Lanka.

Jayawardena called on policymakers to take advantage of the large demand for shipping related services like insurance, financing, and ship maintenance.

Maersk Country Manager Siddarth Iyer noted that the shift in global trade was earlier driven by the trade wars being waged by the United States but had since shifted to the availability due to restrictions during COVID-19. Iyer noted that though finished apparel products had seen a trend moving outside China the intermediate products remained to be sourced from China. Iyer noted the need to bring supply chains to Sri Lanka to bolster economic growth and international trade.

Emirates Area Manager Sri Lanka and Maldives Chandana de Silva noted that airlines had survived the pandemic by selling freight space. The Bandaranaike International Airport and the Mattala Airport have freight capacity of 200,000 and 45,000 metric tonnes respectively. The two airports are also able to land large air freight planes.

De Silva noted that there was scope for the country to get into the high-value logistics sector.