With the re-granting of GSP Plus status by the European Union, Sri Lanka
could export more than 6000 items to the European Union countries on a duty
free basis but the island nation has not looked at those items in a serious
manner, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said at the Colombo Dockyard PLC
keel laying ceremony for the biggest shipbuilding contract for the company.
Colombo Dockyard PLC has been tasked to build a cable laying vessel for
Kokusai Cable Ship Company in Japan. The event was held at Colombo Dockyard
premises within the Port on September seven according to Sri Lankan media
Sri Lanka should look at new export avenues rather than focus on
traditional exports. This change in emphasis would bring much foreign exchange
into the country, Wickremesinghe said.
He said that the ship building industry prevailed during ancient times but
the building of a 5000 ton vessel for Japan is ample testimony that Sri Lanka
has the skill and the capacity to build ships/vessels as an export business.
Sri Lanka is now grappling with a debt trap which could be eased out if the
country develops the export sector by looking at new export avenues, which are
more lucrative for the country, he said.
The government has a strategic plan
to reduce debt burden on the country by 2018 and to bring the debt burden to a
moderate level by 2025, the Prime Minister added.
He also said that the ship building sector is a very lucrative business and
the government is planning to support Colombo Dock Yard to expand its
operations in the future.
'Sri Lanka is in the center of the Indian ocean, which could enable access
to all continents. Therefore, with three good ports Sri Lanka could become a
trading hub in the region, he explained.
Colombo port is currently handling more than 60 percent of containers that
go to India and it could handle upto 80 percent with our skill and capability
even if India builds more ports,. Prime Minister added.
Managing Director, Colombo Dockyard PLC D V Abeysinghe said that this
vessel built for the Japanese firm will be the biggest vessel to be built by
the company. It secured this prestigious shipbuilding contract from a premier
Japanese cable laying company, Kokusai Cable Ship Company.
He said the design for the ship would be by a Norwegian company and model
testing would be carried out at the testing basins in Vienna, Austria in order
to verify its performance, once the ship-building was successfully completed.
This cable laying vessel is a high technology vessel, which is intended for
sub-sea operations and cable installation and repair works of optical cables as
well as power cables, adding to the versatility of the vessel and has a cable
carrying capacity of 5000 tons.
This vessel is 111.3 meters in length, 21.5 meters in breadth, 8.80 meters
in depth with a maximum load laying draught of around 7.1 meters. More than 30
percent of value addition is being done by Sri Lanka and the value of the ship
would be US $ 53 million.
Japanese ambassador Kenichi Suganuma, Minister of Development Strategies
and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama along with officials of the
government and those of Kokusai Cable Company participated in the event.