Int'l shipping firms court importers as trade volume goes up

Published On: July 8, 2019 03:30 AM NPT By: Ritesh Tripathi

BIRGUNJ, July 8: International shipping companies have started entering Nepal promising different facilities for Nepali traders, as the number of containers entering the country has reached around 100,000 annually.

Shipping companies, which did not have Nepal in their destination map until four years ago, has opened their offices at Birgunj dry port. Earlier, these shipping companies used to send loaded containers to Nepal only on condition that the empty containers reach Kolkata within 14 days. These companies are no more worried about detention of containers these days. They have now started receiving empty containers in Birgunj itself.

Of late, shipping companies have started uploading their transportation charge on the website of Kolkata Port Trust. This means Nepali traders can now select shipping companies that offer better rates and facilities. While international shipping companies are opening their offices at Birgunj Dry Court, the Consulate General of Nepal in Kolkata has also made these companies to publish their shipping rates on the website of Kolkata Port Trust.

Nepal's Consul General in Kolkata, Ek Narayan Aryal, said major shipping companies have agreed to immediately update their shipping charge of containers coming from third countries to Nepal. "It will now be easier for importers as they can select the shipping companies offering best rates and services," said Aryal. "Things are changing for good. But importers should also be aware of the new developments," he added.

MSC, PIL, APL, CMACGM, YML and BLPL Line, among others, are the shipping companies that have agreed to publish their shipping rates on the website of Kokata Port Trust.

The Consulate General Office in Kolkata had held a meeting with office-bearers of Association of Shipping Interest in Calcutta (ASIC) last week on direct transshipment of containers after the Kolkata port adopted Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS) for Nepal-bound containers using railways. ECTS, which was introduced on February 15, was made mandatory from March 31 onwards.

Kolkata is the second Indian port to use ECTS for Nepal-bound containers after Vishakhapatnam port.

The two countries are now preparing to implement ECTS in shipment done via roads with the assistance of Asian Development Bank.

Importers, however, claimed that transshipment cost didn't come down as expected despite migration to electronic system. However, Aryal said agreement to make shipping cost public is an initiative to bring down shipping cost.

Under direct transshipment system, shipping companies should transport cargo from the port to the destination. Shipping companies have started to provide this service to Nepal. “More than a dozen companies already providing this service,” said Vishnu Kant Chaudhary, CEO of Himalayan Terminals -- a company that operates dry port -- said. “Four shipping companies have opened their service centers at the dry port."

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