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Maritime expert calls for India-Indonesia shipping chamber

India and Indonesia should set up a shipping chamber to promote shipping cooperation between the two countries as a part of the initiative to establish connectivity in the Indian Ocean, a maritime expert said.

As a business-to-business entity, the chamber could be a sub-unit of exiting trade and industry chamber of the two countries or a separate one, Siswanto Rusdi, founder and director of Indonesia’s National Maritime Institute, said.

“It is good to start a shipping chamber as soon as possible,” he said, calling for a couple of conferences as a prelude for its establishment.

Rusdi was part of a panel which discussed India and Indonesia in the Indo-Pacific in Singapore on Tuesday.

Giving details, Rusdi said on Friday: The most important outcomes (of the conferences) would be the scope of shipping cooperation between India and Indonesia.

With direct maritime/shipping connectivity, Indonesia and India can benefit each other, said Rusdi, pointing out that the world’s bulker pool now is full of China’s vessels and shipping companies.

Our countries must do something to balance it, he told PTI.

Rusdi also pointed out that the Indonesian government will order all coal exports to be transported by Indonesia-flagged vessels by 2020. India is the largest importer of Indonesian coal.

But our shipping capacity is very limited. India and Indonesia can cooperate on this aspect, let say, to procure bigger bulkers to ply the trade, he said.

As a startup to the shipping chamber, may be embassies of the two countries could set up a transportation attache offices to facilitate whatever the shipping players from India and Indonesia may initiate.

He also commented on some media reports on India’s interest in Sabang Port on the tip of Sumatra.

In the old time, Sabang was a free port with significant trading activities. India and Indonesia can revive it to the initial position. Operations at the port are moderate these days.

Since the port is actually a commercial unit under state-owned company Pelindo I, a b2b approach is required, believes Rusdi.

As far as I know, there is no, as yet, Indian business entity coming in to negotiate, he said of Indian participation in Sabang development.

Noting the importance of deep-water ports to India, he said, Naturally, Sabang is a deep-water port. You need not to dredge it to have sufficient draught for big vessels.

So far, the economic activity in Sabang is still moderate, according to Rusdi. What we need is not only physical construction but more on the intangible one. We need industry to be set up in Sabang, he said.

He also underlined the significance of small-coastal vessel operations between Sabang and Andaman island.

The panel discussion was jointly organised by two think tanks at the National University of Singapore the Institute of South East Asian Studies/Yusuf Ishak Institute and the Institute of South Asian Studies.
Source: PTI

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