The governments of Japan, India and Sri Lanka have struck a deal to jointly develop a terminal at the Port of Colombo in order to meet the growing importance of the Indian Ocean to world trade, according to Nikkei Asian Review.
The three countries will work together to develop the East container terminal, which is located at the south part of the newly expanded Port of Colombo.
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The project will see the terminal deepened in order to allow larger container ships to enter and increase trade across the sub-Continent.
Furthermore, it will also mean the parties come face-to-face with China which, through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has invested heavily in the Port of Colombo as it seeks to cement its position as the regional trade superpower.
The Port of Hambanothota, on Sri Lanka’s south coast, was recently handed over to China on a 99-year lease after falling into debt.
Japan also has regional aspirations of its own and India is increasingly looking like a key artery of Asian and world trade through its International North-South Trade Corridor (INSTC).
Colombo is the largest port in Sri Lanka and handles 90% of the country’s seaborne goods. It connects Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, and was the fastest growing port in the world in the first half of 2018, and the busiest in Southwest Asia.
In February 2019 PTI reported that Sri Lanka’s Minister of Ports, Shipping and Southern Development Sagala Ratnayaka had initiated a project to update Colombo’s digital infrastructure and make it a smart port.