In an attempt to bring some balance to China’s growing domination across the Indian Ocean region, Delhi and Tokyo agreed to jointly develop Sri Lanka’s largest and busiest seaport, Colombo.
India, Japan and Sri Lanka are planning to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in the near future. The agreement is aimed at expanding the port by increasing its volume and transportation capacities.
Nearly 90 percent of Sri Lanka’s seaborne goods currently pass through the Colombo port, which is located on the west coast and serves as an important terminal in Asia due to its strategic location in the Indian Ocean. The port connects the country with Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
In 2017, the port of Colombo handled the traffic of 6.21 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU). Last year, maritime transport data analyst Alphaliner ranked the sea hub as the World’s highest container growth port.
The joint project reportedly comes in response to growing concerns about increased Chinese investment across the region, which could drive countries such as Sri Lanka into indebtedness. Over the past years, Colombo has been seeking to benefit and attain full capacity with a boom in regional economies.
Officials from the three nations are currently negotiating the joint enterprise, the Economic Times reports, stressing that the deal might be sealed over the next few months. The partners may attract private sector investment to implement the project with Japanese Official Development Assistance expected to provide partial financing.