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Shipping sector can tap regional growth - CASA Chairman
 


The Sri Lankan shipping sector with relevant infrastructure in place has potential, to tap into the regional growth and emerge as the maritime hub of the region, Chairman elect Ceylon Association of Ships Agents Ralph Anandappa said on being elected to chair the association for the current year.

"While global growth is certainly a damper and throws enormous challenges at shipping lines. Lines are positioning themselves to handle the slow growth with multiple strategies being deployed to achieve and sustain excellence in service delivery and of course profitability. On the positive side, particularly for Sri Lanka, we have efficient ports and terminals, suitable capacity and capable and dynamic management teams delivering world class service levels",he said.

"We all know that Colombo is ready to handle the largest container ships afloat today. We have all seen the port infrastructure development taking place in Sri Lanka. A closer look into the various segments of the shipping industry with a view to providing a variety of services to the ship owner and the merchant will complete Sri Lanka's position as a centre for shipping, he added.

It was highlighted at the recent economic summit that Asia is growing more than double of the global growth rate and of this emerging Asia, including Sri Lanka is at the higher end of the spectrum.

Project Minister for Ports and Highways Rohitha Abeygunewardene was the chief guest.

The global outlook for the shipping industry remains negative for the next 12 to 18 months according to experts. Supply is continuing to outstrip demand in most shipping services. A few days ago the IMF cut its global economic growth forecast citing new downside risks in key emerging market economies and a deeper recession in the Eurozone. Nearer home container volume throughput in India has been flat over last year and so far this year too. Sri Lanka also has not registered growth as such and volumes remain flat over this period. Alarmingly our exports have been declining and it is attributed to over dependence on western markets and strategies are now in place to diversify our markets with FTAs planned with China and Japan while a deepening of trade with India is desired and being worked on.

There are, however, many ramifications to contend with in finalizing all of these agreements and trade and tariff barriers to be examined and overcome, geopolitical and economic considerations to be dealt with before desired results are achieved and sustained.

"We need to have patience, search for new opportunities and work hard at offering the region an unbeatable center of excellence for trade and commerce to flow freely. Benchmarking of such success stories is essential if we are to achieve this and we have examples of Singapore and Dubai to follow and emulate. Sri Lanka also has our own unique strengths to leverage on. CASA will continue to engage the authorities to address matters concerning our membership in order to enhance service delivery to our principals and customers", Anandappa said.

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