Carrier anger as Nhava Sheva terminal operators hike tariffs

Source: The Loadstar
Date: 3rd April 2023

Ocean carriers operating out of India’s Nhava Sheva port (JNPT) have voiced serious concerns over tariff hikes by the dominant private terminal operators.

In addition to PSA Mumbai (BMCT) announcing a near 7.5% hike in its service rates from this month, APM Terminals Mumbai, also known as Gateway Terminals India (GTI), has won an agreement for a rate increase from May.

Together these terminals command the bulk of containerized export/import volumes passing through JNPT.

Tariffs set by build-operate-transfer (BOT) concessionaires across major landlord Indian ports are governed by the Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) and are typically subject to a review every three years.

The Container Shipping Lines Association (CSLA), however, said the terminals had imposed unjustifiable rate increases, which would impact the carriers’ ability to serve shippers or customers.

An executive director of CSLA told The Loadstar: “Quite frankly, announcing increases at a time when the port situation leaves a lot to be desired, is like adding insult to injury.”

The latest terminal tariff hikes will also have predictable logistics cost implications for Indian shippers after some respite from skyrocketing freight rates.

Trade stakeholders are battling severe supply chain challenges at JNPT, fuelled by the drastic capacity reduction at APMT’s berth following the shutdown for an equipment upgrade, running until September.

Trailer owners have also reported sporadic gate-in stoppages of perishable loads into NSICT, a DP World facility, due to reefer plug shortages – a charge refuted by the terminal authority, which said: “The information that DP World has stopped receiving reefers is false and reefers are being accepted.”

But long truck queues seen outside the port over the past few days contradict this and carrier sources have reported strong demand for reefer bookings, a trend expected to last until mid-April.

Indian port volumes are seeing a healthy rebound, new data indicates. CSLA ended the fiscal year 2022-23 with an all-time throughput high of 6.05m TEU, up 6.4%, year on year.

Looking ahead, the Indian government last week announced an ambitious five-year “foreign trade policy” to boost exports to $2tn by 2030 and export industry leaders have welcomed the growth-oriented roadmap.

The chairman of the Apparel Export Promotion Council, said: “The focus on cross-border e-commerce will help align India with the global digital business value chain. The added thrust on sustainability, compliance and ease of doing business will help India boost exports.”

The president of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations added that besides boosting trade, the new policy should help transform the Indian rupee into a global trading currency.

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