The Sri Lankan government is looking to mirror Singapore in liberalising its freight transport sector in a bid to become a greater regional shipping hub. The government is planning to lift restrictions on foreign ownership of shipping agencies and freight forwarders.
Finance minister Mangala Samaraweera, presenting a budget for 2018, commented: “Restrictions on the foreign ownership on the shipping and the freight forwarding agencies will be lifted. This will enable major international shipping lines and logistics operators to base their operations in Sri Lanka.”
Samaraweera said the Sri Lanka Ports Authority Act enacted in 1979 and the Merchant Shipping Act, enacted in 1971 will both be changed to “cater to the demands of the modern day logistics and marine industry.”
“This will also ensure healthy competition,” Samaraweera said.
Moreover, an independent port regulator will be formed.
Sri Lanka’s strategic position has seen the Chinese pump significant cash to develop the island’s port infrastructure in recent years. The island finds itself in a scrap with nearby Indian terminals that are finally getting around to chase transhipment business.