The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) hosted a ‘Seminar on JICA Survey on Cross-Border Maritime Traffic in South Asia’ with the support from the National Policies and Economic Affairs Ministry, Ports and Shipping Ministry and Sri Lanka Ports Authority recently in Colombo.
This seminar was held to discuss the interim results of the ‘Data Collection Survey on Cross-Border Maritime Traffic in South Asia’ among the stakeholders of the South Asian countries.
In order to strengthen the international transportation trunk line network, it is crucial not only to enhance land transportation within South Asia but also to improve the maritime transportation (ports and sea route) and to reinforce connectivity with land transportation through port infrastructure development for both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ aspects.
With the expectation that the strategic development of maritime transport infrastructure in South Asia will play an important role in the formulation of supply chains in and out of Asia and also to support international business community planning to expand into the markets in South Asia and surrounding regions, this study is being carried out by the JICA.
The survey team in their presentation stated, “The gross domestic product (GDP) of the South Asian region has reached a level comparable to the ASEAN region and will experience a rapid expansion of consumption.” Therefore, taking actions out of findings of the survey will be an urgent need.
Ninety participants including senior officials from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and SAARC Secretariat held discussions on the economic growth of the South Asian region and the critical role of logistics and ports.
JICA Director General South Asia Department Toru Arai in his opening speech said, “Maritime connectivity is a key to regional prosperity of South Asia. Thus, the JICA is willing to continue and even enhance its support for a win-win approach among the regional countries.”
Japanese Ambassador Kenichi Suganuma and National Policies and Economic Affairs Ministry Secretary M.I.M. Rafeek also addressed the participants.
The comments by participants included appreciation of this seminar as an optimal opportunity for South Asian countries to exchange views. Following the dialogue, the participants visited the Colombo Port, endorsing the view that the Port of Colombo is a logistical hub for the South Asian region.
Since the 1980, the Colombo Port has been developed with both financial and technical support from Japan, with total assistance exceeding 78 billion Japanese yen, equivalent to Rs.90 billion at the current exchange rate.