India: Container shortage hits exporters

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For exporters in the region, who ship a variety of goods to different international destinations, shortage in availability of containers and high freight costs are hitting business.

Raja M. Shanmugham, president of Tiruppur Exporters Association (TEA), said that exporting units faced shortage of containers, longer waiting time to get containers at ports have, hike in freight charges.

“We understand that the price hike is attributed to COVID-19 that has left the global shipping lines with backlogs and delays due to labour shortage, reduced capacity of logistics systems, congestion at ports as well as quarantined cargo,” he said in a press release.

Garment exporters have no option but to turn to air lifting of goods and thus incur huge logistics cost. The knitwear exports from Tirupur, valued at almost ?25,000 crore a year, is expected to pick up as the Union government has announced RoSCTL, the State government has relaxed lockdown restrictions, and demand reviving in the U.S. and European markets.

However, the exporters here are unable to ship on time at viable prices because of the shortage of containers, he said.

Coimbatore Custom House and Steamer Agents Association president P. Subramaniam said exporters started facing container shortage last October and the situation had not improved. “Normalcy never returned and I think there will be relief only if the Government intervenes,” he said.

Most of the shipping lines have taken to online business. So, there is no platform for the agents to discuss with representatives of shipping lines. “Yesterday, I booked five containers online and it was cancelled immediately saying bookings are full. Now, I do not know when the containers will be available,” he added. There are customers waiting for even two months for containers, he said.

Source: The Hindu Business Line

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