The Federation of Indian Exports Organization (FIEO) has launched an online first-level marketplace for containers, bringing together both exporters and shipping lines, in a bid to combat the current scarcity of shipping containers that is affecting India’s trade.
“Exporters can post their container demands online. All such requirements are also made visible to Shipping lines/ Freight forwarders/others so that they can express their interest to fulfil such demands,” FIEO has said in a letter sent out to export promotion councils.
While FIEO believes this will better enable improved understanding of the current container requirement by India’s export community in realtime, the portal may also help policymakers in ascertaining the depth of the crisis.
Exporters can put in requests for containers, notifying the source and destination ports, the specific type of containers needed and the urgency of the order. The portal is expected to help in the ground-level assessment of containers required in the country.
The majority of global merchandise trade is dependent on standard size containers carried on mega seaborne vessels run by a relatively small number of shipping lines.
The container scarcity crisis started in the late part of 2020 as a sharp dip in import volumes led to a shortage of containers available for exports, at ports across India.
It worsened as economies in the region and beyond began opening up at the same time having ended national and regional lockdowns. As industries opened up, orders for goods poured in and exports began piling up broadly around the same time in all countries, both the demand, and prices for containers skyrocketed.
While talking about the situation, Dr Ajay Sahai, Director General & CEO, Federation of Indian Export Organisations(FIEO) said “We have had a couple of discussions under the aegis of the Logistics Department where shipping lines have said that there is no shortage of containers and how there is a provision to supply containers within a 22-24 hours notice”.
“This is strongly contested by the EXIM community”, he remarked.
“What we want is that the requirement for containers is put up by the exporters in a planned manner so that we can invite shipping and logistics players on the portal to put in their quotes significant to their requirements.”
“This portal is simply a matchmaking that has been provided by FIEO for the benefit of the EXIM community and it will facilitate the logistics companies also.”~Dr Ajay Sahai, Director General & CEO, Federation of Indian Export Organisations(FIEO)
“On one platform, they know the kind of containers exporters require and also for which destinations; and accordingly , they can do it”, he said.
The web-link has gone live from earlier this week and has already seen a deluge of requests by exporters. The highest demands for containers have been placed at Nhava Sheva port in Mumbai and Gujarat’s Mundhra port while the most common destination mentioned is Newark port in the United States and destinations across Europe and the Middle East such as Rotterdam port in the Netherlands and Dammam port in Saudi Arabia.
Dr Sahai also shared how the results from a single day analysis have been quite positive.
“What we have seen in the past is that a lot of freight forwarders have only minimum requirement. We are getting good results . We have even held a one-day analysis, wherein a single day, 74% of the queries have been responded to, which is a good turnout.”
He also added, “As we move along, no queries will come on the portal and the responses will also go up substantially”.
The portal also aims to enable the exporting community to negotiate competitive quotes for their requirements.