New Delhi: India, Sri Lanka and Japan have agreed to develop East Container Terminal (ECT) in Colombo's South Port. The three countries signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) in Colombo with India being represented by its High Commissioner - Taranjit Singh Sandhu.
A release from the Sri Lankan Port Authority (SLPA) said, "The three governments will work out details based on the MOC at joint working group meetings and advance their cooperation towards early commencement of work and operation of the ECT."
While SLPA retains 100% ownership of East Container Terminal (ECT), the Terminal Operations Company (TOC) conducting all East Container Terminal operations is jointly owned. Sri Lanka will have a 51% stake of the Terminal Operations Company, the joint venture partners will hold a 49% stake.
The release of the Port Authority said, " The 51% stake is also one of the best in SLPA joint ownership endeavours" with "SLPA's majority ownership in the new TOC represents a significant step in prioritizing National Interests."
Around 70% of Colombo Port's trans-shipment business is India-related.
Tuesday's development comes even as China has been trying to increase its influence in South Asia especially with the development of ports like Gwadar in Pakistan and Hambantota port in Sri Lanka. In 2017, unable to pay its debts, Sri Lanka handed over Hambantota to China for a 99 year period lease.