According to a report by the World Bank, South Asia has a great potential to manage a big share of international trade, but besides an outstanding economic performance in the last decades, port inefficiencies are representing major threats to stop progress.
The report, “Competitiveness of South Asia’s Container Ports – a Comprehensive Assessment of Performance, Drivers and Costs”, says that ports in South Asia are “expensive and slow”.
The study shows the status, structure and deficiencies of the region’s container ports. As a result, the World Bank concluded 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%, boosting the value of the region’s exports by up to 7%.
“Overall South Asia has improved the performance of its container ports, but still struggled to catch up with other developed and developing regions” report author Matías Herrera Dappe said.
Many inefficiencies and lack of infrastructure represent a higher cost to develop operations in South Asia, about twice as much to import a container as in competitor countries, and the average ship turnaround time for the region at more than two days, was more than four times that of Singapore.
“Experience from across the globe, including the South Asian experience, indicates that a comprehensive approach that tackles several interrelated angles yields greater benefits than isolated improvements,” said Karla Gonzalez Carvajal, South Asia Manager, Transport and ICT Global Practice at the World Bank.
The report urged South Asian countries, such as Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka to build greater private sector participation, improve governance of port authorities and create more competition within and between ports.