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Historic Port agreement  Sri Lanka Ports Authority and Virginia Ports Authority-USA signs MOC

Front seated: L/R Mr. Keith Bernard, Chairman SLPA, Ms. Sarah J. McCoy General Council for VPA.  Back Row L/R Ms. Tharushini Suriyaarachchi, Programme Assistant, The Colombo Plan; Mr. Rohan Masakorala, Lead Consultant – Port of Colombo Capacity Building Project, The Colombo Plan; Mr. K.D S Ruwanchandra Secretary to the Ministry of Ports Shipping and Aviation Sri Lanka; Mr. Andrew M. Sinclair Director Federal Government Affairs VPA.   

For the first time in history, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) with Virginia Ports Authority (VPA) in the United States of America, where the two sides have agreed to enter into a cooperative agreement for the mutual exchange of expertise and technical collaboration between the two ports. SLPA officials traveled to the United States as a part of the Port of Colombo Capacity Building Project, supported by the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka and implemented by The Colombo Plan. The Port of Colombo operates under SLPA, which is the primary transshipment hub for South Asia. Additionally, the Port of Virginia, under VPA, is one of the largest ports on the East Coast of the United States and runs an automated SMART port, which is a major international gateway for U.S.  trade bound for overseas markets.  

The MOC was agreed upon on May 15 in Portsmouth, VA when the SLPA delegation visited the United States on a study tour through The Colombo Plan. The MOC came into effect with the approval by the cabinet of ministers in Sri Lanka on June 19. Hon. Minster of Ports, Shipping and Aviation Nimal Siripala De Silva submitted the details to cabinet under the Sri Lankan  governments “Ports prosperity  expertise development” theme where the MOC  covers the subject areas through 10 articles consisting of  information and knowledge sharing, exchange visits, sharing best practices, cooperation on general logistics, exchange of technical expertise, supporting initiatives in maritime security, liaising between parties, dispute settlement & entry into force, validity and renewal, and termination. This MOC has a validity period of five years.  

Mr. Keith Bernard, Chairman of SLPA, and Ms. Sarah J. McCoy, General Council for VPA, signed the MOC on behalf of each organisation while Mr. K.D.S.  Ruwanchandra, Secretary to the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Aviation Sri Lanka, Mr. Andrew M. Sinclair, Director Federal Government Affairs of VPA, Mr. Rohan Masakorala, Lead Consultant, Port of Colombo Capacity Building Project of The Colombo Plan, and Ms. Tharushini Suriyaarachchi, Programme Assistant, The Colombo Plan witnessed the signing of this historic agreement between the two institutions. The current initiative to build capacity at SLPA will continue until 2026. The MOC is expected to facilitate productive engagement and collaboration between the parties in the maritime and logistics sectors for years to come.  

U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung lauded the historic port agreement between Sri Lanka and Virginia ports authorities, noting “Sri Lanka has a vital role to play in facilitating global trade and ensuring the world’s cargo efficiently traverses the Indian Ocean. This agreement is a testament to the shared vision of both our nations to bolster maritime security, enhance logistical efficiency, and drive economic growth. The United States recognizes the importance of a robust and resilient maritime sector in Sri Lanka and is dedicated to providing ongoing support and cooperation.”