The primary issue in Indian shipping continues to be the state of the nation's ports. Investment in the 12 major state-run facilities has not kept up with the demand engendered by the rapid economic growth experienced in India over the past decade. This is leading to repeated issues of congestion in the ports, but investment is now being made. However, this may be a case of too little, too late. Further, Indian ports' troubles are being compounded by a fall in demand in the eurozone, which has contributed to a fall in container throughput at many facilities in recent months.
Headline Industry Data
- 2013/14 Port of Kandla tonnage throughput forecast to decline by 1.0%. Over the medium-term forecast period to 2018/19, growth will average 1.6%.
- 2013/14 Port of Jawaharlal Nehru container throughput forecast to contract by 5.1%, and to average 4.1% growth per annum to the end of our forecast period.
- 2013/14 trade real growth forecast at 5.3%, and to average 8.1% to 2018/19.
Key Industry Trends
SCI Sells Tanker To Fight Short-Term Woes: State-run Shipping Corporation of India Ltd (SCI)'s decision to sell one of its four very large crude carriers (VLCC) stems from the firm's rush to avoid posting a third consecutive year of financial losses and the threat of losing its navratna status, which gives the firm financial autonomy from the state.
India Boosts JNPT With Road Link: A newly announced 27-mile expressway, which will connect India's port of Jawaharlal Nehru (JNPT) with the country's interstate highway system, will be a major boost to the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) nation's logistics sector. JNPT experienced a contraction in tonnage and container volume growth in 2012 and is on course to continue this trend in 2013, as economic troubles continue to affect India's main trade partners.
Addressing Structural Bottlenecks Key To Autos Exports Boom: While Indian auto exports have grown spectacularly in the past few years, absolute volumes are still low, a phenomenon we believe infrastructure bottlenecks are responsible for. In our opinion, some critical areas that need investment are additional dedicated ro-ro facilities, ancillary port services and robust road and rail infrastructure, which will improve the connectivity between vehicle production facilities and ports.
Key Risks To Outlook
At present the key risk to our short-term throughput forecasts for India's ports, particularly in terms of container handling, comes from the eurozone. The currency bloc is estimated to have contracted by 0.5% in 2013, although we forecast a return to growth in 2014. Should the currency bloc perform below expectations and record a third-consecutive year of economic contraction, then India's exports, and its maritime facilities, could be hit once more.
The key risk to our medium-term throughput forecasts for India's ports continues to be the problem of congestion at the state-run major ports. Any further bans on dusty cargos at major ports would also impact on our outlook. Industrial action has also proved a problem, with container lines imposing congestion surcharges on facilities as workers have gone on strike.