NEW DELHI: A World Bank report has said that South Asian countries need to improve their port infrastructure and recommended the sea faring South Asian countries including India to build greater private sector participation, improve governance of port authorities and create more competition within and between ports.
The comprehensive World Bank study of the status, structure and deficiencies of the region’s container ports found that if ports in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan had been as efficient as those of Sri Lanka it could have cut shipping costs by up to nearly 9 percent, boosting the value of the region’s exports by up to 7 percent.
“Through improving its ports, South Asia could increase its exports to create stronger economies, better jobs, and a better standard of living,” says the report.
South Asia has had outstanding economic growth in the last two decades and could grab a bigger share of international trade, but inefficiencies in its ports threaten to hinder progress and stop it from matching other regions like East Asia is the report contends.
South Asia has reduced the performance gap with East Asia, but because of remaining inefficiencies and lack of infrastructure it costs about twice as much to import a container as in competitor countries in East Asia. Average ship turnaround time for the region, at more than two days, was more than four times that of Singapore, according to the report.
While some South Asian countries took great strides to improve performance at container ports amid a worldwide boom in sea-borne trade, the region as a whole has lagged and its ports are seen as expensive and slow, the report has said.
The report, “Competitiveness of South Asia’s Container Ports – a Comprehensive Assessment of Performance, Drivers and Costs”, is an analysis of the situation at the ports and the steps needed for improvement.