India: Container trade grows four times global pace

A recovery in the U.S. economy and various measures taken by the Centre helped India register a 11 per cent jump in containerized foreign trade in the first-half of 2016. The rate of growth was four times the pace in worldwide containerized trade in the period, according to a report by Maersk Group, owner of the world's biggest container shipping company.

In its first ever trade report on India titled 'India, a silver lining in global trade' the Maersk Group, which has a dozen companies operating in India, said the 11 per cent increase was almost double the 6 per cent growth registered during the same period last year. Growth in imports into India remained strong at 12 per cent, it said.

In contrast, overall global containerized trade grew 2.8 per cent in the first half.

Right track

"This growth clearly indicates that the initiatives taken by India to boost the economy are on the right track since containerized trade accounts for approximately 55 per cent of the country's total EXIM trade volumes," the report's authors wrote.

"Though global trade did not start 2016 on a positive note, the Indian market has grown consistently in the first half and the upswing will continue till 2017," Franck Dedenis, Managing Director India, Sri Lanka & Bangladesh Cluster, Maersk Line, told The Hindu. Maersk Line is the world's biggest container shipping company.

"This is primarily due to relatively strong U.S. economy and slight improvement in the European market, which account for over a third of the containerized trade from India," he added.

During the first half most containers went to the U.S., U.K., Germany, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Kenya.

Elaborating on the report, Mr. Dedenis said vegetables and fruits & nuts were among the top exported commodities. Exports of vegetables grew by 56 per cent, followed by fruits & nuts at 42 per cent. Among fruits, outbound shipments of grapes surged by 180 per cent.

Growth was witnessed in the exports of automobiles and auto parts despite a dip in demand from Nigeria. "Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey and a few South American markets were the major markets for auto exports," according to the report, which added that the segment grew by 9 per cent.

Demand for Indian garments remained strong and witnessed a volume growth of 13 per cent due to demand from North America.

However, exports of guar gum halved due to the low production and prices of crude oil. Guar gum is widely used in oil and gas exploration.

Led by electronics, China was the largest source for imports with a share of 30 per cent followed by North America. The top supplier countries included the U.S., Germany, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

The top imported goods included consumer durables, scrap paper and plastic waste imported by the cycling industry. However metal scrap imports fell.

On the outlook for exports, the report said the growth momentum would continue with strong demand for pharmaceuticals from Europe, North America and Africa. Central America would continue to be a fast-expanding market for automobiles, yarn and steel coils, Maersk said.

"We expect Indian growth to be driven by the emergence of new destination markets, a strong U.S. demand and a recovery in Europe," Mr. Dedenis said. "We can expect Indian trade to clock 8 to 9 per cent growth for the full year of 2016, which will be four times the growth of global trade."

Source: The Hindu