Make India-Japan ECT agreement public – FTZ Union

The Government should publicly declare the trilateral/tripartite agreement signed between India, Japan, and Sri Lanka on the Colombo Port’s East Container Terminal (ECT), stated the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZ&GSEU).

A collective of trade unions affiliated to the Port has for several months now protested over the proposed handover of 49% of the stake of the ECT to India’s Adani Group of Companies. The Government has responded stating that no part of the Terminal has been sold, and that while the majority ownership is with the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), the balance can be invested in by India and any other interested parties. 

Issuing a press release in this regard, the FTZ&GSEU noted that talks held in this regard between the Port trade unions and the President and the Prime Minister had not reached any clear consensus. They also noted that the Government, which is vacillating on the subject, was now talking about other proposals such as opening up the West Terminal for investments, as opposed to the ECT. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was reported in the media as stating that the ECT ownership would completely remain with the SLPA, and that a Cabinet paper would be submitted in this regard. 

However, the FTZ&GSEU noted that on 1 February, a spokesperson for the Indian High Commission had told the media that the Sri Lankan Government should immediately implement the agreement signed in Colombo on 28 May 2019, between India, Japan and Sri Lanka, regarding the ECT. Be that as it may, on 1 February, Cabinet approval was granted to maintain all operations of the ECT under the SLPA.    

“This is not the final solution regarding the matter. The tripartite agreement does not get nullified because of this. The trade unions and the public have a right to know the content of the said tripartite agreement as it concerns a sensitive nerve centre in terms of both the economy and from a security standpoint. Therefore, we request the President and the Premier to publicise the said tripartite agreement that the Indian High Commission referred to,” the release further stated.