Govt. proposes agreement on free navigation and over-flight in Indian Ocean
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) did not fully address all security concerns in the maritime sector and as such the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) intended to propose an international arrangement guaranteeing freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean since many major powers were strengthening their naval forces and the economic potential in this area was available for exploration.
The Premier made this proposal at the Indian Ocean Conference in Colombo at Temple Trees.
He said that Sri Lanka intended on cooperating with all its partners to create a shared economic and security engagementroadmap, adding that a code of conduct ensuring freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean will fulfil this, and that the GoSL intended to begin discussions on establishing a legally stable framework guaranteeing freedom of navigation and over-flight in the Indian Ocean.
Forty percent of the world’s offshore oil is sourced from the Indian Ocean with rich mineral deposits to be found in beach sands and offshore placer deposits. Also the Ocean still remained rich in fish unlike other oceans around the world.
Australia, China, India, Japanand the USAhave been considering the expansion oftheir maritime activities to areas like ocean excavation, placement of remote sensors to facilitate ocean research etc. with China, Japan and the USA planning to expand forward naval presence.
“Naval power will play a greater role in the regional maritime affairs. This will in turn lead to naval power competitions, with plans for sea control as well as sea denials. In our view, the vital Sea Lanes of Communication in the Indian Ocean that fuels the global economy needs to be open for all and must be used for mutual benefit in a sustainable manner. It is essential to maintain peace and stability in the Indian Ocean Region which ensures the right of all states to the freedom of navigation and over flight. That unhindered lawful maritime commerce is conducted in keeping with current international laws and regulations,” Wickremesinghe said.
He went on to emphasise the country’s plans to establish itself as a logistics hub, but added that increasing conflict within Indian Ocean nations would affect this plan
He ensured that the country had no intention of entering into any military alliances with foreign countries, adding that the Hambantota Port development with Chinese assistance had no military agenda.
Wickremesinghe suggested that countries of the Indian Ocean in order to promote freedom of trade and increase prosperity, needed to introduce protectionist levies on their citizens.
Sri Lanka has bilateral trade agreements with multiple Indian Ocean countries since these nations had no common free trade agreement like East Asian nations. Creating an international agreement guaranteeing free navigation and over-flight in the Indian Ocean region will better facilitate regional trade and encourage foreign trade.
This suggestion will also enable Sri Lanka reach its goal of establishing itself as a regional logistics hub around the world.
|Article Code :||VBS/AT/06092017/Z_2|