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Indian box volumes tick up despite Red Sea-linked supply chain disruption

Containerised trade through India’s major and minor private ports saw measurable traction last month, according to exclusive port data obtained by Container News.

Combined volumes hit nearly 1.9 million TEUs in February, up nearly 5% from 1.8 million TEUs in January.

Of this, Adani Group-owned Mundra Port accounted for 635,000 TEUs in February, compared with some 618,000 TEUs in the prior month.

Nhava Sheva Port (JNPA), the busiest public container handler, contributed about 565,000 TEUs, rising from 516,000 TEUs. At Nhava Sheva, PSA Mumbai (BMCT) has emerged as the largest terminal operator, racking up 158,000 TEUs, versus 148,000 TEUs in January, according to collected data.

The overall month-on-month upward throughput trend is significant as Indian shippers have had considerable supply chain challenges over the past three months due to the Red Sea crisis.

Apart from service reliability issues as a consequence of vessel diversions over the Cape of Good Hope in southern Africa, Indian exporters had also voiced concerns over high freight rates, which they said were forcing them to hold back shipments of low-margin goods.

Especially, agricultural exporters and traders have halted cargo movements due to soaring shipping costs and equipment availability problems.

As ocean freight rates have now seen some downward corrections in the last few weeks, there are expectations that exporters will try to maximise shipments in March, the last month of the fiscal year 2023-24.

India’s merchandise exports by value saw a 3% year-over-year increase in January, bringing back some hopeful signs for industry stakeholders and government leaders.

“The increase in exports, despite the Red Sea crisis posing challenges on the logistics front, goes to show not only the resilience of the sector but also of the exporting community, which has continuously been braving such odds since the Russia-Ukraine war,” said Israr Ahmed, president of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) in a statement.

Ahmed further noted, “The exporters have consistently been performing, driving the growth of exports, and also adding to the growth momentum of the economy.”

He went on to add, “The main growth drivers of merchandise exports during the month included petroleum products, engineering goods, iron ore, electronic goods, drugs and pharmaceuticals, which itself is a good sign as most of these sectors are labour-intensive sectors and are giving boost to employment creation in the country.”

Source: Container News

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