What to expect from Colombo Port City?
China Daily

Aerial photo taken on May 5, 2021 shows the Colombo Port City in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Photo/Xinhua

The Port City Colombo is an important section of China's Belt & Road Initiative, in midst of CPEC in the Arabian Sea and the Myanmar corridor in the Bay of Bengal, it connects the world's biggest manufacturing plants in Chinese mainland to the Indian Ocean via land-based corridors feeding the trade needs of the East-West shipping route.

As the Marshall Plan, also known as the European Recovery Program back in 1948 when the United States transferred over 100 billion US dollars to their ally nations to recover Western European Economies after World War II, China's Belt and Road Initiative will be the biggest modern-day global economy recovery plan which includes over hundred and forty signatory parties including thirty-four European Nations (eighteen European Union member states). Most of the Asian nations and almost all African and Latin American nations, among which are 26 low-income nations and 39 middle-income nations, together the Belt and Road initiated over 3,500 projects globally.

Although the Colombo Port City in Sri Lanka was losing its momentum since COVID was followed by the economic crisis in Sri Lanka, the strategic importance of the project is still vital in a changing geopolitical fabric. The project is not only viewed as an investment prospect but also its geopolitical importance can't be disregarded. The development of another extended world order along upcoming frameworks under the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Belt and Road Initiative, and the Global Development Initiative will allow more capital to flow into the developing nations.

Since the appointment of new President Ranil Wickremasinghe in July 2022, the country has been gaining more stability. At present, the IMF program and debt restructuring will simultaneously build investor confidence in the months to come. More specifically Indian, Chinese and other real estate investors have shown interest in the upcoming Colombo Port City.

The centuries-old and generational-long special relationship and trust between Sri Lanka and China is an exceptional prospect to maximize the potential of trade relations. Sri Lanka should analyze the global flows and harness this opportunity from the Belt and Road Initiative. The Port City of Colombo, which comprises six districts including an international island, a central park, an international financial city, the living island, and a marina lifestyle, will enter the markets soon. Below are fourteen points to look forward to at Port City Colombo:

1. The construction of the Duty-Free shopping mall inside Colombo Port City is aiming to be the biggest duty-free mall in the region, which will first open as an "IKEA Style Warehouse Model" shopping mall and will move to a competitive shopping complex in the coming five years. It will also be the first Downtown Duty-Free Mall in Sri Lanka and in the region, and after completing the infrastructure work, it will soon begin the interior fit-out. The Duty-Free trading facility will be operated by two of the world's leading Duty-Free operators and is the key feature to test the waters in a quest to position Colombo as a regional shopping destination similar to Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, etc.

2. A plan for the feasibility of a "remote check-in process" and "checked-in baggage hauling" for departing overseas travelers is currently being drawn up, to streamline their shopping experience at the Duty-Free Shopping mall at the Colombo Port City.

3. The construction of the elevated port access road from Ingurukade Junction to the Colombo Port City would be completed by 2023, which interlinks the Airport Expressway directly to the Port City Colombo.

4. The first beachfront luxury hotel project will be developed at the Colombo Port City on an extensive land of 6 acres which is next to one of the busiest ports in the world with easy access to the airport.

5. Colombo Port City "Port City Villa Development" will reach out to potential investors to build a modern beach villa in Port City targeting high-end business tourists which extend toward a 26-acre land area facing the Indian Ocean.

6. The Colombo Port City Commission has granted six fresh indenture leases for a 99-year period to the investors valued at approximately 200 million US dollars and investors have projected a collective investment commitment of 600 million US dollars.

7. The Colombo Port City Commission was also in talks with the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) to set up an international commercial dispute resolution center.

8. Negotiations are ongoing to introduce a leading Global Food and Beverage operator into Colombo Port City, offering a range of East, West, and Fusion cuisine, creating a "watering hole" concept for Duty-Free shopping as well as a world-class dining destination in the City of Colombo.

9. The Proposed State of the Art multipurpose MICE facility of 78,000 sqm, which can hold international conferences, exhibitions and other multilateral conventions in a 12.3-acre land.

10. Globally reputed education brands with a capacity of accommodating over 1,500 students and hospitals with over 500 beds will enter Port City Colombo in order to cater to the investors and expats living in Colombo Port City.

11. The Port City Colombo includes a 2km uninterrupted beach, open to the public with various water sports and land activities.

12. The Port City will emphasize the modern "Work-Live-Play" model and identify 111 acres of open space, a central park, green shade, walkways and dedicated bicycle lines included in the development model.

13. Luxury Yacht marina is already operating under "Sail Lanka" yet this facility could be extended to many more internationally reputed companies that hold a capacity to berth over 200 yachts.

14. New all-inclusive holistic website for the Port City Economic Commission will be launched by the end of the year. The website will be the first tool in order to create transparent and user-friendly access to the Port City Colombo which will be a one-stop information framework.

Yasiru Ranaraja is a researcher on maritime affairs and BRI development expert. He graduated from Dalian Maritime University, and in 2016 was awarded the Chinese Government Scholarship to complete his LLM at Ocean University of China. Yasiru currently serves as a director to Belt & Road Initiative Sri Lanka.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.