A report released by the world’s largest container shipping company Maersk shows that India’s containerised trade grew 6 per cent during the last quarter of 2018, with the western region outperforming the other three regions in Q4 trade.
Maersk has attributed the growth in trade to increased demand for refrigerated cargo from India coupled with improved trade relations with China.
While the import growth of 9 per cent was led by dry cargo such as plastic, rubber, metal and paper, exports grew by a mere 3 per cent and this was largely from refrigerated cargo and agri-commodities, especially vegetables, seafood, nuts, cereals and rice.
China had, in Q4, inked a protocol with India for sourcing fish meal and fish oil. Trade sources expect this trend to continue for some more time.
Commenting on the growth in containerised trade, Steve Felder, Managing Director, Maersk – South Asia, said, “the stable trade environment was due to base effects, weakening demand in China, overall contraction in manufacturing around the world and global trade tensions between major economies. It also indicates that the economy has managed to sail through some of the challenges including the impact of regulatory reforms such as demonetisation and GST.”
Commenting on the growth of refrigerated cargo and agri products, Ajit Venkataraman, Managing Director, APM Terminals Inland Services for South Asia, said, “unlike professional and large scale farming that is observed in western countries, a majority of India’s agricultural produce comes from small, rural producers based in the hinterlands. One of the crucial challenges faced by the sector is food wastage and this is costing the industry billions of dollars every year. An efficient “farm-to-fork” cold chain network managed by skilled workforce with refrigerated containers, temperature-controlled warehouses along with service trail, will help curtail this loss.”
In 2019-20, Felder said, “post-cabotage relaxation, the Indian government has evinced keen interest in promoting major ports. The inauguration of intermodal transport along the Ganga Inland waterway is yet another example of the government’s endeavour to facilitate cargo movement from hinterland. With all the major policy reforms and trade focused infrastructure developments, India is on the right track to enhance global trade.”