The partnership is a bid to build synergies between these two maritime locations. Thailand is currently following a policy to boost trade with India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka under the framework of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). It recently signed an agreement to facilitate a new maritime route between the Krishnapatnam Port in India and Ranong Port.
“We are very happy to be a part of this initiative as it is looking at developing the BIMSTEC region to the benefit of all its partners. With HIP now coming strongly into this play, we can see it becoming an important nodal which will facilitate the movement of cargo not only in the region but also countries to the west of Sri Lanka,” says Ray Ren, CEO of Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG).
“As we develop these connections and become an active facilitator of a gamut of maritime services for which our multi-purpose port is now gearing itself, we expect to partner international and Sri Lankan companies in port-related industries. The industrial zone, which will be situated adjacent to the docks in the bonded area of the Hambantota Port is a totally new offering for the region. It will also make HIP the gateway port for the southern region of Sri Lanka,” says Ren.
The first phase of the agreement, with Ranong Port and HIPG would be to exchange information and have cooperation in port management, operations, information technology, communication, port connectivity, port-related industries, and investment promotion in order to enhance the development of the two ports. The possibilities of introducing coastal shipping between Ranong Port, and Hambantota International Port, with a view to promoting bilateral trade, investment, and maritime transport logistics would be considered in the next steps.
“To achieve the objectives of this agreement we shall establish a Joint Working Group Meeting to draw up concrete programs and activities. The Joint Working Group Meeting will be organized every two years and each Party will take turns in hosting the biannual meeting,” says Lance Zuo, General Manager – Commercial & Marketing of HIPG, who represented HIP at the signing ceremony.
A special seminar on “Thailand & Sri Lanka: Opportunity and Way Forward” was held after the signing ceremony. The main aim of the seminar was to promote maritime transport, port/shipping business, and port-to-port cooperation between Thailand and Sri Lanka through this agreement.
Bindu Ranasinghe, Assistant General Manager Commercial and Marketing, HIPG who was also present at the seminar, made a presentation on the development of HIPG, which was followed by a panel discussion.