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Cochin and Deendayal container ports in India buck downward trend

WITH the coronavirus pandemic continuing to slacken container traffic across all major ports in India during July, Cochin and Deendayal ports bucked the downward trend in the month, with container volumes surpassing the year-ago figure by 6 per cent and 10 per cent respectively

25 August 2020 - 19:00

WITH the coronavirus pandemic continuing to slacken container traffic across all major ports in India during July, Cochin and Deendayal ports bucked the downward trend in the month, with container volumes surpassing the year-ago figure by 6 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.

India has 12 major government-owned ports and over 200 minor and private ports, with major ports cumulatively handling 55 per cent of the country's maritime cargo and include ports of Cochin and Deendayal.



Total volumes for 12 major ports, barring Cochin and Deendayal port fell 18 per cent on the year in July to 652,000 TEU, according to UK's S&P Global Platts, with the worst hit port Kamarajar, where volumes sank 39 per cent. Meanwhile, Jawaharlal Nehru Port, the largest among all major ports, witnessed an on-year decline of 20 per cent.



However, the Cochin port in Kerala witnessed an increase in sailings due to firm demand from Dubai, a major trading hub. Container traffic at Cochin port totalled 54,000 TEU in July against 51,000 TEU a year ago, data published by Indian Ports Association (IPA) showed.



'The fact that Cochin has a direct shipping line to Dubai is attracting more exporters,' a Cochin-based freight-forwarder said. 'Most of the shipments to middle-east carry fruits, vegetables, garments and medical equipment.'



He also noted that many exporters are now opting for sea transport rather than air transport, as airfreight had nearly doubled when container freight rates in comparison were steadier.



Meanwhile, traffic at Deendayal port, formerly known as Kandla port, touched 44,000 TEU in July, compared with 40,000 TEU a year ago. Market sources attributed the increase to a shift in traffic to Deendayal port due to evacuation and logistic challenges at other ports as well as delayed shipments.



'Deendayal port is typically not a container port, volumes during the month increased because container shipments which had been stuck at transshipment points earlier arrived during the month,' an Ahemdabad-based customs broker said.



A Gujarat-based freight forwarder said that container shortage as well as evacuation challenges in the adjoining ports during June led to traffic shifting to other ports including Deendayal port. He noted that the shortage in container availability at Mundra port, Gujarat and the worsening of coronavirus situation in Mumbai, Maharashtra led to exporters shifting operations to Deendayal port.



'In the last two months what we have seen is that exports are more than imports, which signals two things. One is that the consumption has not picked up as much as exports, and with the economy improving up, we had expected a surge in exports. I think this will normalise in next two months and we would be back into a balanced trade,' said Karan Adani, CEO of Adani Ports.



'What we see is that the worst is behind us and we would only see a continuing upswing trend going forward,' he said.


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