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Business News/ News / World/  India, Indonesia complete joint report on Sabang port feasibility

New Delhi: India and Indonesia have completed a joint feasibility study on developing the strategically valuable Sabang port, according to persons aware of the matter.

Sabang port, which is located in the province of Aceh, is roughly 700 km from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The successful development of this vital port would allow India easier access to the Malacca Straits, a narrow stretch of the sea between Indonesia and Malaysia and one of six chokepoints along the world’s maritime trading routes.

A substantial chunk of the world’s good trade passes through the Straits, as does the vast majority of China’s imports of energy. Developing the Sabang Port could bolster India’s military position vis-a-vis China in the Indian Ocean.

In 2018, Indonesia’s then-coordinating minister for maritime affairs Luhut Pandjaitan said Sabang port would be fit to host both shipping vessels and submarines.

His allusion to a possible military use for Sabang spurred a flurry of speculation about the strategic uses of the port for India.

According to the persons cited above, India has completed a feasibility study detailing the prospects for the expansion and development of the port. The study is now being reviewed by Indonesia.

However, progress on building the port has been slow and talks have been on for some years now. In 2018, both sides set up a task force to boost connectivity between Aceh province and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

“In this regard, the leaders appreciated the decision to set up a Joint Task Force to undertake projects for port related infrastructure in and around Sabang," the two leaders said in a joint statement during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first official visit to Indonesia.

This development comes amid growing interest in infrastructure development projects in Indonesia from Indian firms. Mint had earlier reported how Indian firms were looking at involving themselves in building Indonesia’s new capital Nusantara. Indian companies are also currently in talks to develop a port in Western Sumatra, which would help improve economic ties between the two countries.

“Infrastructure should be at the core of the India-Indonesia partnership," said Gurjit Singh, who was India’s ambassador to Indonesia from 2012 to 2015. “The leaders shared their views on the importance of intensifying infrastructure development in both countries and the mutual benefit of enhancing infrastructure development cooperation," said Modi and president Joko Widodo during their 2018 joint statement.

“The Leaders shared their views on the importance of intensifying infrastructure development in both countries and the mutual benefit of enhancing infrastructure development cooperation. In this regard, both Leaders welcomed the convening of the 1st India-Indonesia Infrastructure Forum which would enhance further infrastructure connectivity cooperation," said Modi and Widodo during their 2018 joint statement.

New Delhi and Jakarta also created the India-Indonesia Infrastructure Forum (IIIF) in 2018 to foster links between the private sector in both countries. A second edition of the forum was held in 2019.

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Updated: 29 May 2023, 10:47 PM IST
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