India sees surge in inbound containers despite drop in exports.

High container availability index points at container overcapacity at Indian ports
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India has experienced a surge in inbound containers at its ports between January-May 2023, with the Container Availability Index (CAx) persistently surpassing 0.75. This rise in inbound containers is attributed to a drop in demand for outbound containers, as April 2023 saw a 13% decline in merchandise exports worth $35bn compared to the previous year. This decline in outbound container demand has resulted in a surplus of containers, leading to container overcapacity. However, despite the slowdown in exports, the Indian government is encouraging pro-export industry groups to enhance shipments and increase annual trade volumes.

The India-US trade relationship continues to strengthen, resulting in a 7.65% increase in bilateral trade in FY 2022-23. While India continues to prioritise the promotion of exports, container traders, shippers, and carriers in India are experiencing a slowdown in containerised exports due to a noticeable decline in consumer demand from US, European Union, and UK markets.

Industry stakeholders are hopeful that the positive trend of increasing annual trade volumes will drive a resurgence in containerised exports and contribute to the overall growth of the Indian economy. Despite the current export slowdown, the third quarter of the calendar year is expected to bring improvements as fresh orders and bookings increase in preparation for the upcoming festival and new year season.

According to the Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways of India, the country’s major ports handled a record 795 million metric tonnes of cargo in the fiscal 2022-23, marking a 10% increase from the previous year. This demonstrates a positive outlook for the country’s economy and its potential for continued growth in the coming years.

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