Find Freight, Shipping and Logistics expertise in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s freight and shipping industry comprises air, sea and land services. Due to its geographical location the country acts as a link between West Asia and South East Asia and is in the path of some of the region’s major sea routes.

The European Commission estimates that, in 2010, Sri Lanka’s exports of textiles and clothing, tea, spices, rubber goods, precious stones, coconut products and fish to EU, US and India had a value of €6.3billion. Imports of petroleum, textiles, machinery and transportation equipment, building materials, mineral products and foodstuffs from India, China and EU were worth €11.5billion.

Transport infrastructure in the country includes of 18 airports of which 14 are paved and one heliport. Companies such as Sri Lankan Cargo also operate air freight services. There are also 1,449km of railway and 91,907km of roadway; these two services carry much of Sri Lanka’s internal freight. In addition there are 160km of waterway which is mainly made up of rivers in the southwest of the country. A total of 21 merchant vessels are associated with Sri Lanka including bulk carriers, cargo vessels, chemical tankers, containers and petroleum tankers; eight of these vessels are owned by Germany.

The large commercial port in Colombo is the hub of the country’s sea freight operations. It is regulated by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) under the Ministry of Transport. The port is used by companies offering services including; container shipping and storage, stevedoring contractors and ship broking. There are a total of 16 berths at Colombo Port, of varying length and with a depth at some terminals of 12-15m alongside. A wide range of facilities such as ship repairs, cranes, fork lift trucks, over 6,000m2 of bonded warehousing and 125m2 of cool room as well as destuffing services.

The World Bank Logistics Performance Index (LPI) scores countries on various aspects involved with shipping and logistics on a scale of one to five with five being the highest. Sri Lanka’s LPI score (2012) is 2.75 which places it above the average for both the South Asian region (2.58) and the lower income countries (2.55) and in 81st place in the world out of 155 countries.

International logistics firms, such as DHL and UPS, also operate in the country and DHL is in fact the largest logistics service provider in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Railways runs an important parcel and transport/freight service. Freight forwarding services are available at Columbo Port and the industry body is the Sri Lankan Freight Forwarders’ Association (SLFFA).

The World Bank Logistics Performance Index (LPI) scores countries on various aspects involved with shipping and logistics on a scale of one to five with five being the highest. Sri Lanka ranks in the top 90 out of 155 countries in terms of shipment (50th), tracking (86th), logistics (68th), customs (71st) and infrastructure (89th); and lower only in timeliness (110th).

Freight, Shipping and Logistics organisations in Sri Lanka
Department of Import and Export Control
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