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India: Port traffic up 5.5% this year

India: Port traffic up 5.5% this year
Traffic handled at major ports in the country saw a growth of 5.5% in the April 2009-February 2010 period, compared with the corresponding period a year ago.

India: Port traffic up 5.5% this year.

Traffic handled at major ports in the country saw a growth of 5.5% in the April 2009-February 2010 period, compared with the corresponding period a year ago, signalling a gradual revival in exports as the world economy began easing itself out of the financial meltdown.

Data compiled by the Indian Ports Association shows traffic volumes at India"s 12 major ports grew on a yearly basis to 509 million tonne in April to February 2010, from 482 million tonne in April 2008 to February 2009.

The data chiefly includes movements of products like iron ore, petroleum, oil and lubricants, fertilisers and coal, besides container cargo.

?Domestic volumes and imports were less impacted by the slowdown and they bounced back quickly. Exports were sluggish during the slowdown, and now the increase in port traffic indicates a recovery on the exports front,? said S Kulkarni, secretary of the Indian National Shipowners Association (Insa).

?An increase of 5.54%, however, is modest compared to the average yearly growth of 10-12% that we have seen in the past. As time passes and trade picks up, we"ll see more growth in the coming years,? he added.
The figure, however, is more than double the mere 2.2% growth in port traffic reported during the April 2008-Mar 2009 period, when the slowdown hit exports the worst. The rise in port traffic for the April 2009-February 2010 period was triggered by a 21.57% growth in cargo to 85.9 million tonne, coupled with a 2.77% increase in container traffic, which increased to 91.2 million tonne. Most of the commodities handled by these ports reported growth, compared with the previous year, barring finished fertiliser and petroleum, oil and lubricants. Finished fertiliser cargo handled at these 12 ports declined over 8.7% on an yearly basis to 10.5 million tonne, while petroleum, oil and lubricants, which account for the highest volumes at these ports, was marginally lower by 0.25% at 15.9 million tonne.

?Exports registered a double-digit growth of 19.4% in December 2009 for the second consecutive month. The Index for Industrial Production (IIP) registered a growth of 16.8% in December 2009. Consistent growth in IIP and non-oil imports demonstrates a boost in demand. Container volumes have also registered stable growth in the past three months. Going forward, we expect the same trend to continue,? said Supriya Madya and Rajni Mahadevan of ICICI Direct in a report.

Paradip Port Trust continued to handle the most cargo, with a 26%. growth in Apr-Feb 2010 to 52 million tonne. Both the ports in West Bengal, managed by the Kolkata Port Trust, showed a drag in their performance and in Apr-Feb, recorded a 16.2% decline in traffic to 41.4 million tonne. Ennore Port Trust and New Mangalore Port Trust reported negative growth, with their throughput down 6.9% and 2.2%, respectively.
?Increase in the port traffic is a direct indicator of boom in trade. Port traffic has a co-relation with the GDP. Port traffic had increased by just 2.2% in FY09, and we are expecting a better trend this year, driven by improved exports,? said an official from the Indian Ports Association. The government has set a target of 1 billion tonne throughput for Indian ports by 2011-12, entailing a compounded annual growth rate of 12%.


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