India relaxes cabotage laws

India is finally relenting to calls from global containerlines, and will ease its cabotage rules. The government has decreed that foreign boxlines will now be allowed to tranship at Indian ports as well as reposition empty containers.

Previously other ports such as in Sri Lanka, Dubai and Singapore had profited from India’s reluctance to open its domestic container trades to foreign lines.

A third of India’s containers are currently transhipped through foreign hub ports, up from 26% in 2008, according to the shipping ministry.

“We have been breaking our heads on this for the last 20 years. It does two very good things. One, it will bring competition within the EXIM feedering trade around the Indian coast. Once competition comes, feedering rates will drop, translating into an advantage to exporters and importers. Secondly, this will encourage use of Indian ports and terminals for aggregation and transhipment,” Deepak Tewari, managing diretor of MSC Agency India told the Hindu Business Line. Tewari is also the chairman of the Container Shipping Lines Association.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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