India should grow port operations in line with economic standing, says APM Terminals

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India should grow port operations in line with economic standing, says APM Terminals

One of the world's largest port operators, Dutch owned APM Terminals, has called on the Indian government to invest US$20 billion if it wants to achieve its 10-year plan to increase container traffic volumes six-fold.

Chief executive officer Kim Fejfer said private sector involvement would be crucial for achieving this growth.

"The opportunities for development throughout India, one of the world's largest and fastest growing economies, are exciting and energizing and APM Terminals is committed to being part of that growth," he told business leaders at the India Ports Conference recently.

Fejfer said throughput at India's ports accounted for 9.7 million twenty foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2011, just one twelfth of what the Indian economy needs, based on global container traffic averages in relation to economic output.

The Indian government has ambitious plans for its Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNP), which handles 45% of the country's container traffic and is the world 25th largest port.

In 2011 the port handled 4.3 million TEUs but the Shipping Ministry's 10-year growth plan wants to see this increase to 11 million by 2016 and 23 million by 2020.

"Port tariff regulations which penalize increased throughput and productivity will not assist in developing the infrastructure," he warned.

Fejfer added that congestion and capacity issues at Indian ports have begun to affect trade growth, as existing container terminals are at 84% capacity and above with inadequate access to inland points.

APM Terminals believes India's shipping status does not reflect the fact India is the third most powerful economy in the world growing at an estimated 7.8% last year to reach US$ $1.8  trillion.

India ranked 13th globally in imports and 21st in exports last year but South Asia, including Pakistan and Bangladesh, only represented 3% worldwide container throughput in 2011.

South Asia saw combined container volumes of 18 million TEUs, four million less than the Port of Shenzhen in China, according to Alphaliner extimates.

APM Terminals Mumbai handled an estimated 1.9 million TEUs in 2011 and 20% of all India's containers.

Photo: APM Terminals

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