India’s Shipping Logistics Costly and Inefficient

India's Shipping Logistics Costly and Inefficient
Mumbai Port

India may sequence its agreeing to the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement depending on its strategic interests, but the country must improve on its own cross-border highly under-performing trade logistics resulting in shipping cost of export from India twice over China and near about three times that from Singapore, The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) has said.

Shipping a container from India costs close to USD 1200, while from China it is in the range of USD 600, and Singapore about USD 400, the ASSOCHAM study on “Transports and Logistics in India” said, citing data from the World Bank. Likewise, the turnaround time at India’s best port, JNPT in Mumbai that handles more than 50% the country’s containers, is 1.1 days (36 hours) while it is less than 12 hours in Singapore, Dubai, Shanghai and Colombo.

A high level of logistics costs could affect India’s competitiveness, particularly for the products of value additions, the study said.

“Shipping a container from India costs close to USD 1200, while from China it is in the range of USD 600, and Singapore about USD 400.”

“Actually, whatever position we take in the multilateral fora, there are certain things for which we do not really need any nudge from the international obligations. If at all we want to become an exporting nation with a strong manufacturing base, the Indian logistics infrastructure be it port, airport, roads, rail network must be of international class , built seamlessly entire through the system,” ASSOCHAM President Mr. Rana Kapoor said.

According to the study, India’s port handling charges are much higher while the logistics systems are under-performing relative to China, Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia and OECD countries.

The entire transport sector must be dealt with in a holistic manner and there is a great case for a well integrated system across different departments of the Centre and the state governments. Presently transport operatorsare to deal with plethora of inspectors, police personnel, road transport authority officers, toll officers, and port handling staff. The policies are also fragmented.

“For instance, there are eight different departments looking after transport, shipping , road transport, highways, civil aviation, airports , airlines and those dealing with rural roads, which are also key links to the rural India,” according to the study.

Press Release, August 27, 2014; Image: Mumbai Port Trust