Freight-rate surge stirs call for shipping regulator

Several trade bodies have urged the Centre to set up a regulator to deal with the rising freight charges, amid the problem of container shortages that exporters are facing.

Engineering Export Promotion Council of India claimed that shipping lines are demanding high freight charges as inward traffic from different countries, particularly from China, has declined for which the exporters are required to pay a higher amount for outbound consignments.

“Imports from China have fallen and the liners have increased freight rates. No shipping company likes to sail empty after delivery of export consignments,” Sanjay Budhia, chairman of CII national committee on exports and imports, told PTI.

He said all the exporters across the country are facing this problem.

“This is leading to a situation where cargo is lying at ports. We urged the government to set up a shipping regulator to control the freight rates,” Mr. Budhia said, adding exports have started to pick up despite the coronavirus crisis.

After contracting for six months in a row, exports grew by 5.27% to $27.4 billion in September.

The shipping companies have raised freight rates due to falling imports from China as liners do not have much cargo while they are returning, an official of the engineering exporters’ body said. “This is making Indian exports uncompetitive in the global markets,” an EEPC official said.

After witnessing a sharp fall, engineering exports have somewhat steadied, though the contraction continues, he added.

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