Kochi (Agencies): Opening ways for investments, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh dedicated the country's first International Container Transshipment Terminal at Vallarpadam Island near here to the nation on Friday.

"With the building of this terminal, our exporters can now access mainline containers vessel calling at one of the most well-located ports of India," Singh said after inaugurating the first phase of the over Rs 3,200 crore terminal under the Cochin Port expansion project.

The Cochin Port becomes the first port in the country that can berth very large vessels.

Dubai Ports World built the terminal at a cost of around Rs 1,600 crore. The terminal can handle up to 1 million twenty foot equivalent units (TEUs) of cargo per annum. Moreover, another Rs 1,700 crore was invested on providing road and rail connectivity to the terminal.

"The ICTT in Vallarpadam is thus a long-awaited milestone in the development of a country's logistic infrastructure," Singh stated.

The Prime Minister noted that the absence of a global hub port and the lack of transshipment facilities had put India's trade at a disadvantage. About 60 per cent of India's exports and imports containers are transshipped through ports like Singapore and Colombo. This involves an additional expenditure and days of transit time.

Singh said a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import and re-gasification facility would also be set up at Kochi by March, 2012.

"A link road has been built to connect Vallarpadam with NH-47 and NH-17. The Railway Vikas Nigam Ltd has completed the 8.5-km rail link that connects the terminal to the railway network," he informed.

Apart from it, the navigation channel is being deepened. This is a challenging task involving the removal of nearly 26 million cubic metres of soil.