India on Thursday point up the significance of Srilanka adhering to international commitments under a trilateral agreement for improving a key port terminal following Colombo’s decision transfer the facility to a state-run entity.
On developing the East Container Terminal ( ECT) of Colombo port, India, Japan and Srilanka had signed an agreement in 2019.However, the Sri Lankan government gave in to stress from labour unions, which are against to a joint endeavour with Indian and Japanese investors having a 49% stake in the ECT, and decided on Monday to run the terminal as a fully owned operation of the Sri Lanka Port Authority (SLPA).
Japan described the Sri Lankan government’s unilateral decision as “regrettable” and India responded to the move by calling on Srilanka to follow the trilateral agreement.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the memorandum of cooperation signed by the three countries in May 2019 envisaged the development and operation of the ECT in a trilateral framework, at a weekly news briefing when asked about the issue.
“We sincerely believe that the development of infrastructure in Sri Lanka, in areas such as ports and energy, with foreign investment from India and Japan will be a mutually beneficial proposition,” he said. He also mentioned that, “Our high commissioner in Colombo is in discussion with the government of Sri Lanka, including on the importance of adhering to international commitments.”
To convey India’s position that Sri Lanka must abide by the agreement, separate meetings with President GotabayaRajapaksa and foreign minister Dinesh Gunawerdene was held by the Indian envoy. India’s Adani group and several Japanese investors decided to form a joint venture to hold 49% stake in the ECT.