According to people familiar with the matter, India and Indonesia have completed a joint feasibility study to develop the strategic port of Sabang.
The port of Sabang is located in the province of Aceh, about 700 km from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The successful development of this important port would give India easier access to the Malacca Straits, a narrow stretch of sea between Indonesia and Malaysia and one of six bottlenecks along the world’s maritime trade routes.
A significant portion of the world’s trade in goods crosses the strait, as does most of China’s energy imports. The development of the Sabang port could strengthen India’s military position vis-à-vis China in the Indian Ocean.
In 2018, Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s then-Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, said that the port of Sabang was suitable for receiving ships and submarines.
His allusion to a possible military use of Sabang sparked a flurry of speculation about the port’s strategic use for India.
According to the above people, India has prepared a feasibility study detailing the prospects for expansion and development of the port. The study is currently being reviewed by Indonesia.
However, construction of the port is progressing slowly and talks have been going on for a number of years. In 2018, both sides set up a task force to improve connectivity between Aceh Province and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
“In this regard, the leaders welcomed the decision to set up a joint task force to carry out port infrastructure projects in and around Sabang,” the two leaders said in a joint statement during Prime Minister Narendra’s first official visit Modi in Indonesia.
This development comes against the background of the growing interest of Indian companies in infrastructure development projects in Indonesia. mint had previously reported that Indian companies are considering participating in the construction of Indonesia’s new capital, Nusantara. Indian companies are also in talks to develop a port in West Sumatra, which would help improve economic ties between the two countries.
“Infrastructure should be at the heart of the Indo-Indonesian partnership,” said Gurjit Singh, who was India’s ambassador to Indonesia from 2012 to 2015. “The leaders shared their views on the importance of stepping up infrastructure development in both countries and mutual benefits.” “We want to enhance cooperation on infrastructure development,” Modi and President Joko Widodo said in their joint statement in 2018
“The leaders shared their views on the importance of stepping up infrastructure development in both countries and the mutual benefits of increased cooperation on infrastructure development. In this regard, both leaders welcomed the convening of the 1st India-Indonesia Infrastructure Forum, which would further enhance cooperation on infrastructure connectivity,” Modi and Widodo said in their joint statement in 2018.
New Delhi and Jakarta also established the India-Indonesia Infrastructure Forum (IIIF) in 2018 to promote private sector links between the two countries. A second edition of the forum took place in 2019.