Indonesian ship brings cargo to Port Blair
An Indonesian cargo vessel from Aceh, laden with 150 tonnes of commercial goods, docked at Port Blair in India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands on Friday, marking the first step in an effort to forge business connectivity between the two regions.
The voyage by the vessel, which left Port Malahayati in Aceh on December 29, is part of the implementation of the “Statement on Shared Vision of India-Indonesia Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific” agreed on by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joko Widodo during the Indian leader’s visit to Indonesia last May.
“This sort of connectivity between Aceh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands lies at the heart of the Bay of Bengal and the Indo-Pacific. Its strategic value goes beyond naval cooperation,” said Indonesian ambassador Sidharto Suryodipuro.
The vessel’s cargo includes construction materials such as sand, rocks and cement, handicrafts and coconut products arranged by the Aceh Chamber of Commerce, which is coordinating with its counterpart in the Indian archipelago for organising an exhibition and exploring possible business deals.
On its voyage back home, the vessel is expected to carry Indian products and goods.
“During his recent visit to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi spoke about infrastructure projects such as a sea wall to tackle erosion. It makes sense to get construction materials for such projects from Aceh as it will be cheaper,” Suryodipuro said.
As this was the first step in forging business connectivity, the Indonesian side opted for a smaller vessel and is looking at the possibility of Port Blair becoming a hub for trade, he said. The connectivity could also boost the tourism sector, he added.
“There is considerable potential as there is no direct shipping. Smaller vessels can do the job and you can use ports with less draught,” the envoy said.
The joint statement on maritime cooperation envisages encouraging the greater flow of goods, services, investment and technology, and steps to enhance institutional, physical, digital and people-to people links between Andaman and Nicobar Islands and provinces in Indonesia’s Sumatra Island, including Aceh.
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