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WTO Downgrades Outlook for Global Trade as Risks Accumulate

New Delhi:

Port Wings News Network:

Trade will continue to expand but at a more moderate pace than previously forecast. The WTO anticipates growth in merchandise trade volume of 3.9% in 2018, with trade expansion slowing further to 3.7% in 2019. The new forecast for 2018 is below the WTO’s 12 April estimate of 4.4% but falls within the 3.1% to 5.5% growth range indicated at that time. Trade growth in 2018 is now most likely to fall within a range from 3.4% to 4.4%.

Some of the downside risks identified in the April media statement have since materialized, most notably a rise in actual and proposed trade measures targeting a variety of exports from large economies. The direct economic effects of these measures have been modest to date but the uncertainty they generate may already be having an impact through reduced investment spending. Monetary policy tightening in developed economies has also contributed to volatility in exchange rates and may continue to do so in the coming months.

WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo said: “While trade growth remains strong, this downgrade reflects the heightened tensions that we are seeing between major trading partners. More than ever, it is critical for governments to work through their differences and show restraint. The WTO will continue to support those efforts and ensure that trade remains a driver of better living standards, growth and job creation around the globe.”

The updated trade forecast is based on expectations of world real GDP growth at market exchange rates of 3.1% in 2018 and 2.9% in 2019. This implies a ratio of trade growth to GDP growth of 1.3 in both years.

Trade policy measures are far from the only risk to the forecast. Developing and emerging economies could experience capital outflows and financial contagion as developed countries raise interest rates, with negative consequences for trade. Geopolitical tensions could threaten resource supplies and upset production networks in certain regions. Finally, structural factors such as the rebalancing of the Chinese economy away from investment and toward consumption are still present and could weigh on import demand due to the high import content of investment. Overall, risks to the forecast are considerable and heavily weighted to the downside.

In the first half of 2018, world merchandise trade was up 3.8% compared to the same period in the previous year. Exports of developed economies rose 3.5% during the same period while shipments from developing economies increased by 3.6%. On the import side, developed economies recorded year-on-year growth of 3.5% in the first half of 2018 while developing countries registered an increase of 4.9%. Imports of developed economies have generally been flat in 2018 while exports of developing economies plateaued similarly.

All geographical regions recorded positive year-on-year trade growth in both exports and imports in the first half of 2018, but some regions performed better than others. North America saw the fastest export growth during this period at 4.8%, followed by Asia at 4.2% and Europe at 2.8%. Exports of Other regions (comprising Africa, the Middle East and the Commonwealth of Independent States including associate and former member States) increased by 2.7% while those of South America were up 1.1%. Asia had the fastest import growth (6.1%) followed by South America (5.5%), North America (4.8%), Europe (2.9%) and Other regions (0.5%).

Prices of energy commodities including oil have risen 33% for the year-to-date through August compared to last year, boosting export revenues of commodity exporters. This has not yet translated into strong import demand in resource-rich regions, as one might expect. Meanwhile the US dollar has appreciated by 8.4% in real effective terms since January of 2018.

The downward revision to the trade forecast is consistent with the WTO’s World Trade Outlook Indicator (WTOI), which has signalled slowing trade momentum since the first quarter of 2018. The WTOI combines several leading indicators for trade into a single composite indicator. Components include container port throughput, air freight shipments, export orders, automobile sales and trade in electronic components and raw materials. The export orders component, derived from purchasing mangers’ indices, has fallen from 54.1 in January to 50.3 in August, just above the baseline value of 50.0 separating expansion from contraction.

A separate indicator of economic policy uncertainty is based on the frequency of keywords related to uncertainty in press reports (Chart 4). The index value rose from 113 to 227 between January and July before falling back to 205 in August. Although uncertainty has eased slightly recently, it remains higher than during the global financial crisis of 2008. To the extent that economic uncertainty deters investment it can have a negative impact on trade since capital goods tend to have high import content.




Indian Major Ports Face Bleak Future Without Captains for Months


Port Wings News Network:

Out of 12 major ports dotting across the east and west coasts in the country, six are without a full-time chairman for months. And the delay in appointing a regular chairman for these ports is affecting the prospects of these facilities, say port users.

Government of India through its Ministry of Shipping manages 12 major ports – Deendayal (Kandla), Jawaharlal Nehru (Nhava Sheva), Mumbai, New Mangalore, Mormugoa, Cochin, V O Chidambaranar (Tuticorin), Chennai, Kamarajar (Ennore), Vishakapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata.

Of them, Deendayal, JNPT, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chidambaranar, and Kamarajar ports are without a regular chairman for months.


The Ministry of Shipping recently announced appointment of chairman-in-charges for three Major Ports – Cochin, V O Chidambaranar (Tuticorin) and Kamarajar (Ennore).  As per the order Mr P Raveendran, Chairman of Chennai Port Trust, given an additional charge as CMD of Kamarajar Port Ltd. Likewise, Mr Venkata Ramana Akkaraju, Deputy Chairman of Cochin Port Trust, entrusted with additional charge as Chairman, Cochin Port Trust.

Besides, Mr Rinkesh Roy, Chairman of Paradip Port Trust, has been given additional charge as Chairman of V. O. Chidambaranar Port Trust.


Kamarajar Port, the only corporate port under the administrative control of the Ministry of Shipping and located at Ennore near Chennai in Tamil Nadu, is without a regular chairman and managing director (CMD) since August 2017.

As the then chief M A Bhaskarachar retired on July 31, 2017, government had advertised for the post and proceeded with selecting a new chairman. However, Cyril George, Deputy Chairman of Chennai Port, approached the Madras High Court and delayed the process as his application was rejected by the selection committee. The court ordered the committee to examine Cyril George’s application for the post. And since then, the selection process is on and on, for the last 11 months.

Initially, Rinkesh Roy, Chairman, Paradip Port, took charge as the in-charge CMD of the port and very recently, the Ministry appointed P Raveendran as in-charge until a new CMD is appointed.

Similarly, chairman post in V O C Port is also lying vacant since August 2017.  After the retirement of Chandrabose, Deputy Chairman of the port Natarajan took over the additional responsibility for some months.

Later, the government appointed I Jeyakumar, chairman of Mormugoa Port as chairman-in-charge. And recently, the Ministry appointed Rinkesh Roy, Chairman of Paradip Port, as its in-charge chairman.

Local EXIM community has been questioning the inordinate delay in appointing a regular chairman for VOC Port.

And Cochin Port too shares a similar story. After Paul Antony completed his tenure as chairman in Cochin more than a year ago, no one has been appointed for the post. And recently, government appointed Venkata Ramana Akkaraju, Deputy Chairman of the port, to hold additional charge as Chairman.

Other ports like JNPT, New Mangalore and Deendayal also has similar stories, as they are also without a regular chairman for months and managed by in-chargers.

According to port users, the role of chairman is considered as important in the development of any ports. A regular chairman will help the port in fishing out issues that affect their growth and solve them immediately. For the others, the additional charges mean just an additional work.

Without a regular chairman, these six ports are liable to slow down in their approach towards growth and decision making will be stretched for months. Every port has its own problems that need to be solved immediately to remain on course of development.

Efficiency in management will suffer: Union leader R.Santhanam

Speaking to Port Wings, R. Shanthanam, President, Indian Major Port Officers Association, said, “We have filed a complaint to the Prime Minister of India Office (PMO) on the issue and requested the PMO to look into the overall implications. We have also apprised the PMO about the demerits of not having a regular chairman in these ports, which will not only affect the growth of any port, but also affect the moral of the head of the departments, other officials and the whole work force in those facilities. It is important to have chairman at all the major ports to essentially to meet the day-to-day challenges in improving business in the face of competition from non-major ports (private ports).”

“A delay in appointing chairmen for one or two months can be taken as a realistic administrative practice. But, having them vacant for more than a year is something we unheard of. Therefore, we appeal to the Ministry of Shipping to take immediate steps and appoint chairmen in all six ports.”


Speaking to Port Wings, Rajasekar, President, Tamil Chamber of Commerce, said, “There is also a delay in appointing trustees in all the ports. They are very important members of the authority to run the show in every port. These trustees help the chairman to take decision on many important issues. So, the Ministry of Shipping should also think of appointing trustees at the earliest to create a business-friendly environment in every port.”


Speaking to Port Wings, Pon Radhakrishnan, Minister of State, Shipping, said, “Many people including the EXIM community have been questioning me about the long delay in filling up vacancies of chairman post in these ports. We cannot choose anybody in a hurry to lead these ports and then change them frequently. The delay is mainly due to our increased focus on selecting a qualified hand to head those ports. To run the port operations smoothly, we have also given additional powers to those in-charge chairmen. They can take all the executive decisions in the interest of their respective ports. Therefore, I will not accept the allegation that the delay is hampering port’s growth. We cannot fix a time-frame for selecting a chairman for any port.”


Disruption Challenges Faced by Online Logistic Start-ups

Samir Lambay, CEO and Director of FreightCrate Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

By Samir Lambay, CEO and Director of FreightCrate Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

In the recent years, digitisation has led to disruption of major industries and sectors, transforming business processes and functions. Logistics, however, has been one of the least impacted sectors. This is slowly changing as the next generation entrepreneurs from the freight forwarding community are taking up the challenge of disrupting the sector through innovative digital solutions.With a fresh focus on organising the sector, streamlining pricing and operations and introducing automated and transparent processes, the new age digital logistics start-ups are bringing in a fresh wave of reforms, even as the sector continues to hold on to the set systems and processes of the past.Some key challenges that start-ups in logistics are facing, include:

Transition from Offline to Online: 

For decades, the logistics sector has been dominated by cumbersome manual processes where export/import managers have been required to compare individual email quotes and conduct lengthy negotiations over the phone. This has led to a large task force that is not digitally savvy. Apart from quotations and negotiations, shipping updates and operations are also dependant largely on telephonic conversations with multiple contact persons.

As a result, these systems and processes have been deeply ingrained as a set way of functioning.This has made it difficult for online logistics start-ups to push their digital platforms even though they offer online freight rates for easy comparisons and shipment management on a single dashboard. However, the quick proliferation of web and mobile consumer apps in day to day servicesmay help accelerate the digital adaptability of the task force.

Pre-existing Business Relationships:

Just as in most B2B industries, the logistics sector in India has also been functioning on strong interpersonal relationships. Loyal and long standing relationships between logistics providers and clients are often difficult to break, despite having access to more efficient online freight service offerings. Additionally, lengthy credit periods are difficult to turn down for most businesses, even when receiving discounted prices. Having said that, several online logistic start-ups are now forging newer and mutually beneficial relationships with clients, by illustrating to customers how access to all-inclusive freight pricing and schedules and transparent shipping updates allows them to save time and make more efficient decisions while reducing logistics costs for their businesses.

Creating Value for Logistic Service Providers (LSP’s):

Since the benefits of digitisation and organised logistics are yet to make their way into mainstream logistics business, getting LSP’s on-board is equally as challenging as getting importers/exporters on-board a digital platform. With a largely experienced task force that has, for decades, been successfully growing and shaping the sector through trusted processes, the transition to a digital framework is met with scepticism. Hence, even though customers cannot make efficient decisions due to lack of information such as total freight cost, schedules and multiple carrier options, the LSP’s are yet to take a step to move to an online platform that will help them share complete online freight quotes to their clients. Through a collaborative approach and creating a win-win business opportunity for LSP’s and a committed service oriented approach for importer/exporters, online logistics start-ups are trying to address the issue effectively.


While the shift from offline to online is imperative, the logistics sector is a marred by multiple limitations that can slow down the process. With a calculated and transparent approach to accelerate growth, new age online disrupters in logistics need to address limitations faced by all stakeholders involved, and help them see value in the transition. Through consistent and result oriented strategies coupled with adequate technology support, logistics in India is slowly but surely transforming into a dynamic sector poised for exponential growth.


Will the implementation of the Sulphur Cap 2020 be delayed?​

By Mr. Kim Yeon-tae, Executive Director, Korean Register ​

Two of the most discussed issues in the international maritime industry in recent years have been the implementation of Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC) and the approaching Sulphur Cap 2020.


The prolonged maritime downturn of the last decade combined with the substantial capital expenses required to meet the requirements of both conventions have raised serious concerns among maritime stakeholders and have led to heated debates at IMO meetings, with many calling for the postponement of their implementation.

The first convention to allow postponement was the BWMC. The two-year postponement of the installation of the Ballast Water Management System (BWMS) was agreed at the 71st Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 71) which took place in London in July 2017. As a result of the many obstacles to the effective implementation of the BWMC, such as the lack of facilities to install BWMS onboard, the application of NEW G8 and USCG Type Approval, the decision was made to postpone its implementation.

However, this decision means that the early movers – i.e., those shipping companies which had already installed BWMS on board their ships in accordance with the convention – are having to face many more hurdles such as non-compliance with the requirements of USCG type-approval, etc., whereas those who decided to wait and see – can now benefit from installing a more reliable system with a proven track record.


Now the eyes of the maritime industry are turning to the global Sulphur Cap which will come into effect in 2020. But, there is a significant doubt across the industry that the convention will actually come into effect in 2020, as currently scheduled.

With less than two years left before the sulphur convention comes into force, it is evident that the relevant parties are far from being fully prepared. For example, the IMO regulations, which are relevant to the convention, in terms of how to apply and implement the convention, have still not been finalized.

The majority of shipping companies have still not made up their minds on what measures they will be taking, to comply with the convention. The refineries, on the other hand, are not expected to be able to produce a sufficient amount of low sulphur fuel oil (LSFO) for ships, in time. These factors are similar to those faced by the industry when it came to complying with the BWMC, and so many in the industry have voiced a need to postpone the implementation of Sulphur Cap 2020.

However, I think there is very little chance that the implementation of the global Sulphur Cap 2020 will be postponed, for the following reasons.

It is anticipated that there will be a regional shortage of LSFO after 2020. However, if LSFO is not available at the place of bunkering, under MARPOL Annex IV/18.2, the ship is simply allowed to be exempt from compliance with the Sulphur Cap 2020 regulation. Therefore, a shortage of LSFO will not be a legitimate excuse for postponement.

Some ships will be fitted with Exhaust Gas Cleaning System (EGCS) to comply with the Sulphur Cap 2020. The availability of EGCS may not fully meet the demand before the year 2020. In such cases, a ship will be allowed to use LSFO until it is equipped with an EGCS.

In the last two IMO meetings, the 4th Pollution Prevention Response (PPR) held in February 2017 and the 71st MEPC, several member states highlighted their concerns regarding the difficulty of implementing the global Sulphur Cap, but they were excluded from discussions. It’s likely to be difficult for IMO member states to re-submit the same proposal in future committee meetings.

Furthermore, to amend the conventions, the proposal must not attract objections from more than one-third of the contracting Governments. At the moment the number of member States that have ratified MARPOL Annex IV is eighty-nine (89), and the number of states objecting the postponement of implementation is likely to be more than thirty (30). With the EU member states objecting, the likelihood of postponing the implementation of the Sulphur Cap 2020 convention seems very low.

Above all, if the implementation of Sulphur Cap 2020 is postponed once again after the BWMC, IMO will lose public confidence and face a significant obstacle to the smooth implementation of any future conventions. In reality, the chances of postponing the Sulphur Cap 2020, are very, very small.


The Korean Register is an IACS member classification society established in 1960 with the purpose of promoting safety of life, property and the protection of the marine environment.

KR currently classes an international fleet of 3,032 vessels totalling 69 million GT. It is headquartered in Busan, South Korea and operates a network of 66 offices around the world. It is authorized to perform statutory and certification services in 78 countries.


Trade Suggests Options to Erase Congestion Out of Chennai Port

By N Gajendran,  Customs Broker


For the past 15 years, the Chennai Port is suffering from continuous congestion in terms of inefficient container handling. Due to that sluggishness, nearby ports are getting more volume and growing rapidly. The current volumes handled by nearby ports are actually the one that moved away from Chennai port due to the heavy congestion.

The Big USA buyers such as ‘Gap Inc’, Walmart and Decathlon do not prefer Chennai Port for their movement mainly due to the port congestion, uncertainty of planned vessel connection, and also inefficiency of operational handling.

With reference to improve productivity in container terminals in the port and to move out congestion from Chennai Port permanently, we, as one of the leading players in the logistics supply chain system, would like to give our suggestions to change the present situation.

The real problems:

According to the trade, total volume of each container terminal in the port is 70,000 TEUs that is 50,000 Units of 20ft and 40ft. There are two operations normally handled at ports. LO/LO  at Port Yard —From and To the Ship and LO/LO  at Port Yard —From and To the Trucks. (CFS/ ICD).

When calculated, that is 50,000 units  X 2 Moves = 1,00, 000 moves by RTG at each terminal. The time taken for handling of each or per box of  20 / 40ft container by RTG at port yard is 15 Minutes which leads to 4 units per hour.

The handling of containers by Per RTG per Day work outs to only 88 Units, that is 4 Units per hour multiplied by 22 hours.  50,000 Units or 1,00,000 moves divided by 30 days = 3333 Moves and 1666 Units per Shift.

Per Shift 10 hrs = 1666 Units divided by 88 Units per Day per RTG= Per Shift requirement is 19 RTGs. Do these terminals deploy adequate RTGs per Shift?

The shortage of required RTGs in the port yard has caused slow handling of containers and ultimately creates congestion. It is the major hindrance to the trade.


Below is the flow chart of the current operation at the Chennai Port.

The containers are unloaded from the Ship by Quay Cranes and loading onto the local Trucks (as inter-carting movement) –unloading in the yard by RTG –Within the 24 to 36 hrs after the unloading operation completed at the Container Yard (CY), the Delivery of containers starts by the CFS Trucks or CFS nominated Trucks.

Normally, the trucks come inside the port either with Export Laden or Empty Containers or as an empty truck to pick up the PNR import Box.

Considering this current practice as unnecessary, we suggest remedial solutions, which all the other ports in our country follow. In other ports, Containers are delivered at Vessel Hook Point. That is, delivery and receipt of containers to / from directly from Ships Hook.


PNR processing has to be completed in advance that is 24 Hours before the birth of vessel / ship at Dock. Form-13 to be released to respective CFS 24 hrs before vessel berth.

Six hours (6 hrs) before the vessel’s actual berthing, the necessary arrangements and planning should be made to make the trucks to be on the queue near the marked area to pick up the container directly from Vessel Hook Point. To attain such readiness, all the trucks should be provided with Form-13 in hand. Furthermore, with a view to streamline, the truck queue should be arranged in such a way to accommodate more trucks in the following manner in three rows or lanes. It should be like — one row for heavy weight container that is 1 x40 ft or 2x 20ft TEU, another one is for light weight  only 40 ft or 20ft TEU, and the third one should be for inter-carting the non-CFS nominated containers to move to the yard.

When container comes out from the ships released by quay crane, driver of the waiting truck should accept the first available container and move out without any delay. For example, if the container belonged to Triway CFS but the truck standing on the queue to pick up the container is bound for another CFS having Form 13 to Sanco CFS, the driver must hand over Triway Form 13 and carry Sanco CFS container without any objection.

Likewise, all CFS truck or CFS nominated truck should move the container out.

When the Port Out Gate generates the Gate Pass, it should be clearly mentioned the name of the CFS and inform to the Driver to carry to particular CFS. The concerned CFS also should get mail with the full details of Import Container, Truck number.


With this type of movement, the operation cost of Wharf to Yard movement of Rs. 1000/- per TEU could be saved. And more importantly, huge operational cost of equipment and its fuel will also be saved considerably. As such, 50,000 boxes will be moved directly out from vessel point without any hindrance and congestion of trucks.

And, yard operation will be totally 60% free and it will always get large empty space to accept and accommodate more Export-Laden containers. The Port will get an additional capacity to handle three times of current volume. Within the 24 Hrs, all import containers will be moved out directly from the Ship

If the system is followed properly, congestion on road and port will not arise, and it will be over once for all.

The export containers will be moved fast from the yard to the concerned vessel as planned.

If the congestion goes, all export volume from other ports will definitely come back to Chennai Port. Import volume, which we have lost to other ports due to congestion, will also return back for handling here. We can easily say that the Chennai Port will register threefold growth in cargo handling.

Since containers are moved out of the port in shortest time, the port will be able to maintain better and planned connectivity with international route mother vessels.

And, it will give Chennai Port the much-needed grading in trade as committed port. Any incident and accident in the case of containerized cargo, the concerned CFS operators will take care of everything.

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