Sri Lanka shipbuilding hub for Seychelles

Monday, 23 April 2012 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Sri Lanka has become the shipbuilding hub for Seychelles and more importantly the latter is looking for direct air-links as well.

 “The strong interest of Seychelles for direct air-links with Sri Lanka is a promising development. This can help towards further enhancing the $ 2 m annual bilateral trade between both countries,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen.

Minister Bathiudeen was addressing visiting Foreign Minister of Seychelles Jean Paul Adams who paid a courtesy call on Minister Bathiudeen yesterday in Colombo. The in-depth discussion between both Ministers spanned a variety of topics on mutual trade cooperation.

“As Sri Lanka enters a new phase of development thanks to the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, we are now working to make the country the economic hub of Asia. This is a good time to invest in Sri Lanka. Among the promising sectors that Seychelles business can invest are fisheries, shipbuilding, and tourism,” Minister Bathiudeen said.

Responding to Minister Bathiudeen, Minister Paul Adams said: “I see many complementarities between both countries. Seychelles uses many sea vessels built in Sri Lanka. In fact, Sri Lanka has become our shipbuilding hub in the Indian Ocean. We use many Sri Lankan-produced vessels in inter-island transport services. Colombo is also becoming a major marine hub for us due to the close proximity in comparison to South Africa and as Colombo harbour expands, it can help us to trade without unnecessarily anchoring at regional container ports, the exception being Salala Port in Oman which is capable of handling largest container vessels in the world.”

Noting that the Seychelles shipping industry is looking for more and more medium and small scale vessels rather than large scale vessels to navigate in between its islands, Adams said that the Seychelles was also keen on Sri Lanka’s tourism and seafood.

“We are expecting 350,000 tourists in the coming year and most tour operators in Seychelles want to prepare joint holiday packages combining Seychelles beaches and Sri Lanka’s scenic tea hills, jungle safaris and temples, which are the most sought after locations in Sri Lanka by tourists exiting Seychelles and the Dubai hub. Our tour operators are using their previous experience in creating joint Seychelles-Africa tour packages for this type of travel adventures. We also need to enhance maritime collaboration between Sri Lanka, Seychelles, Mauritius, and Madagascar.

“More importantly, we want more and more seafood from Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan seafood is the tastiest we receive from among Asian countries. Our seafood importers are especially keen to import Sri Lankan sea cucumber, prawns, crabs and lobsters. We believe that establishing direct air-links between Seychelles and Sri Lanka will enormously help our importers and also to enhance levels of current bilateral trade.”

According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, the total trade between Sri Lanka and Seychelles has been at very low level over the years and in the period of January to September 2011, bilateral trade stood at $ 2 m. Main products exported from Sri Lanka include tea, fishing vessels, cereals and sausages and the main import products include fennel, coriander and cumin. Sri Lanka believes that gems and jewellery, furniture and plastic products have export potential in the Seychelles market.

Responding to Adams, Bathiudeen said: “I too observe many complementarities, especially in trade. The strong interest of Seychelles for direct air-links with Sri Lanka is a promising development and can help towards further enhancing the $ 2 m annual bilateral trade levels between both countries. I am also pleased to note that Seychelles declaring our seafood tastes better than most seafood coming from Asia. Our fisheries sector is well-equipped to increase supplies to meet growing demand in Seychelles. We are also ready to supply more medium and small scale vessels that fit.”  

There are around 20 to 25 active boat yards around Sri Lanka producing various types of boats and about six to seven boatyards currently export their products. The best known sail maker of the world, North Sails, operates its factory in the Biyagama Investment Promotion Zone.

The annual export turnover of boat exports exceeded $ 743,750 in 2010, increasing by 80% from 2009. Among Sri Lanka’s boat buyers are Seychelles, India, Bangladesh, Maldives and Mauritius. Ship and boat building services offered by Sri Lanka belong to a wide range – from boats of different types and uses to related but specialised services.

Among the different types of boats are yachts, pleasure and leisure boats, fishing boats, passenger, sports, rescue, coast guard, patrol boats, fast attack crafts and general purpose vessels, while the related but specialised services include raw material for boat building, preproduction services such as boat design, lofting, plug making, mould making, supplying of engine, navigation and communication equipment, refrigeration systems, sail makers, fire and safety equipment and post production services such as boat storage and transport devices, marinas, diving and fishing equipment, boat and engine maintenance and repairs.

The ship building and ship repair industry in Sri Lanka is capable of producing passenger and cargo vessels and combat crafts using aluminium and steel as raw material.