Govt. says container shortages resolved

India drafting long-term plan to spur local manufacture of the boxes crucial to global maritime trade

April 20, 2021 10:48 pm | Updated 10:48 pm IST - NEW DELHI

On the move:  Resolving the issue of container shortages has helped goods exports rise, says Mr. Agarwal

On the move: Resolving the issue of container shortages has helped goods exports rise, says Mr. Agarwal

The container shortages dogging exporters in recent months have been resolved for now as is reflected in the higher goods exports in March, top commerce ministry officials said on Tuesday. India, they added, has begun drafting a long-term plan with steel producers to make containers domestically.

In March, the World Container Index was 233% higher than a year earlier, suggesting that overall container shortages were high worldwide. However, India had been able to address the issue for its exporters in tandem with shipping lines, the Indian Railways, the Container Corporation of India (Concor) as well as Customs and port authorities, said Pawan Agarwal, Special Secretary (logistics) in the Ministry of Commerce.

“The container shortages issue... has been eased out though the problem has really been a manifestation of international developments,” Mr. Agarwal said. “During March 2021, India’s goods exports were 17%-18% higher than March 2019, so that is a very heartening feature and this has been feasible because of addressing the container shortages,” he added.

“The non-availability of space in vessels calling on Indian ports, congestion at the ports and because exports were higher than imports, this imbalance was creating shortage of containers,” he said, adding that the government had cut the quarantine period for Chinese vessels from 14 days to 5-7 days in order to improve availability.

As many as 2,000 empty containers were released after clearing unclaimed cargo from ports, which were also urged to stop using containers for handling cargo.

While Concor had ordered 2,000 containers, which were expected in the next 4-6 months, the ministry was in talks with steel producers to create an ecosystem for manufacturing containers that need special steel, Mr. Agarwal said. China currently produces three out of every four containers.

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