SLPA Chairman Highlights Strong Partnership between Port of Colombo and French Maritime Industry

The Chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), Mr. Keith Bernard, met with His Excellency Jean-François PACTET, the Ambassador of France to Sri Lanka, at an official meeting on May 12, 2023. The meeting was held at the Port of Colombo.

During his first visit to the Port of Colombo (POC), the French Ambassador received a warm welcome from the SLPA Chairman and the top management. Expressing his views on the occasion, the Chairman of SLPA expressed his extreme happiness for the successful fulfilment of a long-planned meeting. He said, ‘We consider it a great honour to have this opportunity to strengthen mutual and bilateral relations with a country like France, which has a strong history of maritime trade links. This also marks a special occasion for the Port of Colombo.’

The Chairman mentioned that several world-renowned French companies belonging to the internationally recognized maritime and merchant shipping industry are already working with the Port of Colombo (POC), providing shipping services and the supply of various essential equipment and related services. SLPA also maintains cordial relations with several French shipping lines that regularly call at the Port of Colombo.

‘This strong relationship, being built at a time when a scheduled visit to France is planned during a European tour for the development programs of the Port of Colombo in the coming months, is a tremendous opportunity for a better tomorrow for the Port,’ added the Chairman.

He further highlighted the ongoing growth and development of the Port of Colombo as a hub port in the region. Several key projects and programs are currently underway, including the expansion of Stage V of the Jaya Container Terminal, the East Container Terminal, the West Terminal, the construction of the South Asia Logistics Centre, and the Port Access Elevated Highway. The construction of the North Port is also planned as a priority development project.

The SLPA Chairman extended an invitation to French investors to explore opportunities at the Port of Colombo, following the footsteps of other Foreign Direct Investments.

Addressing the occasion, the French Ambassador, His Excellency Jean-François PACTET, mentioned that even prior to his appointment as the French Ambassador to Sri Lanka about six months ago, he had actively sought to learn and understand more about Sri Lanka and its people.

‘Considering the history of Sri Lanka, French sailors have arrived on the island from ancient times. Historical data proves that French companies were established and engaged in trade activities in Sri Lanka in the 20th century. It is now a pleasure to see French companies such as CMA CGM and Bollore Logistics actively involved in operations with the Port of Colombo,’ said the Ambassador.

He emphasized the need for Sri Lanka and France to strengthen their bilateral relations to facilitate successful development in future trade activities. The Ambassador also expressed confidence in the continued implementation of several mega development projects and programs that France has launched in Sri Lanka.

‘France closely monitors the growing blue economy in the Asia-Pacific region and contributes more to it through investments and grants via the European Union. Renowned French companies are already engaging and investing in Sri Lanka’s port and maritime operations, and we are pleased to further engage in the development activities of the East Container Terminal, the West Terminal, and the North Port in the future,’ added the Ambassador.

A special exchange of mementoes also took place between the SLPA Chairman and the French Ambassador to mark this occasion.

Photo: The top-level French delegation at the Port of Colombo posing for a group pic. In the picture are, the SLPA’s Chairman – Mr. Keith Bernard, Vice Chairman – Mr. Gayan Algewattege, Actg. Additional Managing Director (Administration and Operations) – Mr. Prabath Jayantha, Actg. Director (Marketing & Media) – Mr. Sarath Dayananda, Director (Operations) – Mr.Lal Weerasinghe, Director (Security) – Maj.Gen.Sudath Perera (Retd), Harbour Master – Capt.Nirmal Silva, officials of the Embassy of France including the Ambassador H. E.
His Excellency Jean-François PACTET, Economic Counsellor – Mr. Jean-Alexandre EGEA, Country Director-French Development Agency (AFD) – Mr. Réda SOUIRGI, Deputy Economic Counsellor – Mr. David ERDREICH, Maritime Safety and Security Officer – Mr. Jean-Baptiste TROUCHE, Attaché – Embassy of France – Mr. Tom LECLERCQ-OLLIVIER and CMA CGM Lanka (Pvt) Ltd. Managing Director – Kingsley Abeywickrama.

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