India’s Multi-Pronged Strategy To Solve Container, Freight Issues

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The India government has adopted a multi-pronged strategy to address the problem of shortage of containers and high freight rates. The efforts are spearheaded by an inter disciplinary task force consisting of representatives from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Ports Shipping and Waterways, Ministry of Railways, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) and stakeholders like the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), Container Shipping Lines Association (CSLA), etc.

The task force after considerable stakeholder consultations, has initiated coordinated action on identified tracks. This includes pressing additional shipping/container capacity into service  through measures such as enhanced import of empty containers by shipping lines to the country, improved operational planning by facilitating close coordination between exporters and shipping lines,  release of abandoned/detained/seized containers, increasing duty free stay of containers, freight discounts for empty repositioning by Railways,  transport and marketing assistance for select commodities, measures to improve the turnaround times of containers through tracking and monitoring of dwell times so as to effectively enhance availability of containers, seeking out possible ways to promote use of bulk/break-bulk movement by exporters as compared to containerised movement wherever feasible, etc.

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In line with the ambitious export target set by the government, the total merchandise exports during the period April–November 2021 increased to US$ 263.57 billion registering an increase of about 51% over 2020. Non-petroleum exports are also higher by about 42% over last year, and so there is a high demand for additional containers to meet the export target in various sectors.

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