Sri Lanka changes Trinco port rules to attract Indian investors

Aiming to attract investment from India and other neighbouring countries, Sri Lanka has decided to remove prevailing monopoly which allows only one heavy industry in a specific field to be established in Sri Lanka’s North-eastern Trincomalee port.

The Cabinet approval has been given to the Trincomalee Harbour Development Plan which was prepared to develop one of world’s largest natural harbours as a centre port in the proximity of the Bay of Bengal. The Sri Lankan government said on Tuesday the move was designed with the accelerated development of eastern costal area of India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

“At present, there is a policy to implement only one heavy industry in a specific field in one harbour. The natural situation of Trincomalee harbour, the land area of 2,000 hectares belonging to the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) and in the proximity to the harbour as well as the developed infrastructure facilities to supply services — these factors have been taken into consideration while preparing this plan,” the Cabinet stated.

“It has been recognized that it is appropriate to make available opportunities to investors for establishing industries without special restrictions for the sake of the development of the harbour. The Cabinet granted approval for the proposal submitted by the Minister of Ports and Shipping to amend the policy of one heavy industry to one harbour which is existing at present, with the objective of attracting interested investors to start heavy industries in the harbour,” it added.

At present closer to the harbour there are nearly 100 World War-era oil tanks leased out to the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). Additionally there are also a wheat flour mill run by Singapore-based Prima and a cement grinding plants owned by local and foreign partners.

Situated in the heart of the Indian Ocean, Trincomalee Port had been strategically important. Different nations including the Portuguese, Dutch, French, and the British have held it and in 1942 three British warships, anchored at the harbour, sunk after the attacks by the Imperial Japanese Navy.