Sri Lankan minister says liberalization of shipping industry will help attract foreign investments
State Minister of Finance and Mass Media in Sri Lanka, Eran Wickramaratne has reportedly said that liberalizing Sri Lanka’s shipping industry will attract foreign investments to the country, improve efficiencies and reduce costs.
“Liberalisation of the shipping agency business is a key stepping stone for us to develop Sri Lanka as a maritime and trading hub in the Indian Ocean,” Wickramaratne has been quoted as saying at a forum of key public and private sector stakeholders in the shipping industry.
“Allowing foreign ownership in the sector will expand the size of the overall market,” he has said.
The Minister has made this observation in reference to the Sri Lankan government’s plans to lift the 40 percent foreign ownership restriction on shipping agencies.
“We should take advantage of the window of opportunity available to us and maximise the advantage of Sri Lanka’s location,” Wickramaratne has said at the Public-Private Dialogue hosted by the International Trade Centre (ITC).
According to Wickramaratne, one of the island’s greatest advantages was its strategic location on maritime routes in the Indian Ocean, which has enabled it to become a container transshipment hub and the island’s full potential remains unused.
“We hope to have taken the initial steps by 2025 for which we need to invest and reform our offering,” Wickramaratne has said, adding that while port infrastructure is being developed, “another crucial step in this process is full liberalization of the shipping industry.”
“Also the industry is controlled by large domestic players and there is a lack of foreign participation in the agency business,” Wickramaratne has further noted.
“Through liberalisation we could become more competitive and more efficient,” he has added.
The Sri Lankan government is engaged in an ambitious programme to liberalize the country’s maritime industry. This in turn would break the monopoly of several local conglomerates in the country’s shipping sector and create an environment conducive for international shipping lines to set up base in Colombo. Sri Lanka’s geographical positioning in the Indian Ocean makes the island a much sought after destination in the maritime industry. Hence, Sri Lanka’s shipping sector is fast becoming a hotbed for investment opportunities.
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