India’s container export-import trade grew 3 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the corresponding quarter of the previous year. According to a report by Maersk India, the growth in exports was driven by the Middle-East and China amid subdued imports.
The study said container exports saw a growth of 6 per cent, led by refrigerated cargo, engineering and pharmaceutical sectors. Imports, however, slid, registering a negative growth of 2.2 per cent.
Steve Felder, Managing Director, Maersk (South Asia), said: “Indian exporters are expanding their geographical range and product diversification, with visible shift towards higher value-added manufacturing and technology-driven items. Exports have remained strong even as the rupee appreciated against the dollar, showing a strong demand for exports from India. The moderation of global containerised trade growth reflects a broad-based slowdown in main economies due to declining private consumption, trade tensions, political risks and financial volatility.”
Commodities such as plastic and rubber, tile, stone, glass, textiles, seeds, beans, cereals and flour were the growth drivers for exports to Saudi Arabia, China and Egypt. Vegetables led refrigerated cargo exports to Saudi Arabia. Imports were primarily driven by Germany, South Korea and Russia.
The significant growth in refrigerated cargo has been attributed to the festive season of Eid.
The pharmaceutical sector registered a healthy growth, led by new product launches and growing demand from the US. Maersk sources have attributed the surge in demand to discontinuation of certain products by large generics and plant specific issues with some companies, among others. India saw a triple-digit growth in pharma imports from the European region.
“As the Indian logistics sector gears itself for deeper implementation of emerging technologies like block chain and artificial intelligence, the industry will need to focus on skill development to enhance export growth. The government's efforts to grow international trade are already visible through a plethora of initiatives over the past year, including relaxation of cabotage regulations and favourable regulatory environment emphasised by the grant of infrastructure status to the logistics industry. However, India need to drive and indeed fast-track investment-led infrastructural upgrade of roads, intermodal transportation and cold-chain infrastructure,” said Felder.