Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Sri Lanka Relaunches Port Agreement with India and Japan Amid Chinese Concerns | Asia-Pacific News

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The deep-water jetty is located next to the Colombo International Container Terminal, which is 85% owned by China.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has announced the relaunch of an Indian and Japanese investment project to develop a deep-water terminal in Colombo port, next to a controversial 500 million container jetty. dollars led by Chinese.

A tripartite deal reached by Sri Lanka’s previous government had been suspended amid union resistance, but Rajapaksa said on Wednesday that the East Container Terminal (ECT) would be implemented.

The approval came after examining “regional geopolitical concerns,” Rajapaksa’s office said, a reference to India’s suspicion of China’s role in the same port.

The terminal will be developed with 51% ownership by the government of Sri Lanka and the remaining 49% as an investment by India’s Adani Group and other stakeholders, including Japan, officials said.

The state-run Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) entered into a memorandum of cooperation in May 2019 with Sri Lanka, India and Japan to develop ECT before Rajapaksa came to power in November 2019.

The deep-water jetty is located next to the Colombo International Container Terminal, which is 85% Chinese-owned and commissioned in 2013. SLPA owns the remaining 15%.

India protested when Chinese submarines made unannounced visits to the Chinese-run terminal in 2014. Since then Sri Lanka has refused permission for further submarine calls.

Almost 70 percent of the transshipment containers handled by Colombo were Indian export-import goods.

In December 2017, Sri Lanka, unable to repay a huge Chinese loan, ceded another deep sea port in the south of the island to a Beijing-based company in a deal that raised concerns in its country. and abroad.

The $ 1.12 billion deal, first announced in July 2016, saw a Chinese state-owned company take over the port of Hambantota, which straddles the world’s busiest east-west sea route, on a 99-year lease.

India and the United States fear that the Chinese presence in Hambantota, 240 km (150 miles) south of Colombo, could give it a military naval advantage in the Indian Ocean.

Sri Lanka has insisted that its ports will not be used for military purposes.


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