AMTOI Seminar unites industry leaders to explore Kolkata Port’s potential as an export hub

The Managing Committee of Association Of Multimodal Transport Association of India (AMTOI), in a meeting on the 6th of September 2023 discussed on the matters relating to furthering the cause of its stakeholders. Managing Committee members from Pan India converged at Kolkata to discuss various trade related issues.

The meeting was followed by a Seminar in the evening at The Saturday Club on EASTERN INDIA PRESENT AND FUTURE – ROLE OF KOLKATA PORT.

Delivering his welcome speech, the convenor of the seminar Mr. Brij Lakhotia welcomed the dignitaries and delegates. He said that the East, especially Bengal, used to be a jewel in the crown of shipping in India. It used to be the best performing state for Industrial and Agricultural produce and the port was biggest and busiest in country. However, Due to various factors this position was lost and at present the region is struggling compared to the rest of the country. He opined that if the East is to rise up and become a bright spot, a lot of new Industries need to be established, agriculture produce must be improved and there must be far greater ease of doing business. In 2022-23 while total merchandise exports of India were US$ 450.96 billion of this only 2.83% was from Bengal with the state’s exports pegged at Rs. 1 lakh crore.

He was, however, optimistic about the future and that SPM Port had improved its position to 5th amongst all Major ports of the country and that SMPA, Kolkata during 2021-22 registereda 6.95% growth. He further emphasised that the Kolkata port is poised for great achievements and will continue to pay a pivotal role in the region’s EXIM trade, as it has been doing over a 150 years. He informed the house that the state Chief Secretary recently held a meeting with EXIM stakeholders and expressed that Bengal has all the potential to be the next manufacturing hub and double its exports within a decade. Shri Santosh Sarangi was in Kolkata and spoke about the DGFT planning to make West Bengal an export hub under the Ministry of Commerce.  With the hope of more and more industries coming up the role of port becomes most important for Exim trade as well as moving domestic cargo to the Northeast using Bangladesh. He urged those involved in multimodal businesses but not members of AMTOI, to join the association.

Speaking on the occasion Mr. Xerrxes Master – President AMTOI, spoke about AMTOI being established in 1998, with its head office in Mumbai, being the only Pan India trade body in Shipping & Logistics.It hasfour Chapters and has over 350 members registered with DG Shipping. It also hasAssociate members like CFS Operators, Tank Container Operators, Ship Owners, Shipping agents, and Air freight operators.Under the banner of AMTOI various councils such as the NVOCC Council, Liquid Logistics Council, Training Program Council, and the Womens Wing have been formed to aid these segments of the industry. The main objectives of the association are to organize MTOs at National levels, to study the issues faced by MTOs and seek resolutions with the appropriate authorities, to promote Multimodal Transport services in domestic and foreign trade, to improve quality of such services while reducing transaction costs, skill developmentand to promote implementation of the cargo community system.

He also spoke on the regions glorious past and said that it pains AMTOI to see the East slip from its past heights. He was however confident that the with the industrious people of Bengal, infra development and port capacity enhancement projects, that the Ports of Kolkata & Haldia will play a vital role in shaping up a brighter future for the region and our nation.

The Chief Guest Rathendra Raman IRTS – Chairperson Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port (Erstwhile Kolkata Port), spoke at length and gave a presentationexplaining the advantages of Kolkata port. He opined that there are numerous opportunities as the port enjoys geographical advantage and is best suited for the Eastern Region as it connects not only theneighbouring States, but also theneighbouring Nations. He informed that the Port has turned around and has made a profit to the tune of Rs. 300 crores, and that SMPAhandled 58.175 million Tonnes of cargo traffic during 2021-22 (4th highest annual throughput) despite COVID 19 Pandemic and severe ‘Yaas’ cyclone in May 2021.

SMPK’s traffic handling was pegged in the 6th position, vis-à-vis other Major Ports of India and SMPA ranked 5th in 2021-22 amongst Indian Major Ports in handling Container TEUs.

He informed the delegates that Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port will see a near 26 per cent ramp-up in capacity over the next seven to eight years, backed by ongoing projects undertaken by the port and others that are in the pipeline. The total capacity is expected to increase to around 110 million tonnes by 2030.

He further outlined the vision & commitment of SMPK regarding port led industrialization and invited organizations to participate in the upcoming GMIS2023 to take advantage of the best opportunities in Maritime Sector.

Guest of Honour Capt Suji Basu Mazumdaropened his speech by appreciating AMTOI, asa very active body who have been interacting with Govt. of India and Shipping Ministry, to try and resolve the problems of Multi Modal Transport Operators and helpingthe supply chain.

He then took the enthralled audience back to the Golden era of Shipping, the Break bulk days.He also spoke about Kolkata and gave a detailed account about joining his first ship at Kolkata in 1961,and that the Port was the biggest in India loading conventional break bulk vessels. The Port used to always be full,with at least 40 ships and all the berthsbeing occupied and that there here were plenty of buoys and multiple vessels on each buoy. However, as cargo containerization took place, there was a complete global change in the transportation of goods, and this affected the breakbulk vessels as well as warehouses ashore storing the cargoes. Thiswas the point Kolkata Port started to lose its position.

He then reaffirmed that of late the port is performing well, despite the perineal problem of low draft levels,which started after the water sharing accord between India and Bangladesh and resulted in less water coming in and increased silting of the river. He was optimistic about the future with the infra development taking place in the past a few years andgave his view on how Haldia started developing and catering to bulk cargoes.

Special Guest His Excellency Eshor Raj Poudel- Counsel General of Nepal informed the house that Nepal is going to double its imports of fertilizers and all imports shall be using ports at Kolkata / Haldia. However he wondered why SPM Port is losing Nepal bound imports to Vizag as handling there is simplified and hoped sooner than later, Kolkata can also offer better rail connectivity with competitive pricing as Kolkata is near and dear port for imports to Nepal. He further informed that excess hydro power will be exported to India and that will august well for industries in Eastern Region of India.

The seminar was attended by around 150 delegates, followed by Networking Cocktail Dinner, where delegates freely mingled for networking with each other.

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