Port Wings News Network:
The “MCCI LOGISTICS FORUM 2019”, organised by the Merchant Chamber of Commerce & Industry was held on 23 December 2019 at Taj Bengal, Kolkata with the theme being “Logistics Excellence for Stronger Regional Trade” and Focus Country, Nepal.
The Inaugural session was attended by Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Prime Minister’s Sherpa to the G 20 and Former Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Railways & Civil Aviation; Mr. Vinit Kumar, Chairman, Kolkata Port Trust; Mr. Eknarayan Aryal, Consul General, Consulate of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal in Kolkata and other dignitaries. The Forum was also addressed by Mr. Vishal Jhajharia, President, MCCI and other leading trade associations including Mr Sudip Dey, Vice Chairman, Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations in India (FFFAI) and Mr. Dhruba Raj Thapa, President, Cement Manufacturers Association of Nepal.
The Forum emphasized on regular communication between importers of Nepal and the service providers in India in order to bring down logistics cost. Several questions were raised from the Nepal importers regarding the quality of service and cost for the imported goods. The same were answered by the Port officials and the Railway officials. Speaking at the event, Mr Sudip Dey said there must be regular interactions between the importers of Nepal and Kolkata Service providers in order to bring down cost of Nepal import. According to Mr Dey, it was only due to lack of communication that anomalies were happening (e.g. port ground rent, penalty by Railways etc). “KOPT may keep a liaison officer in Nepal for dealing with day to day issues. Border restrictions for transit into Nepal should be done away with and vigilance should be done with the help of Risk Management & IT,” he suggested.
Highlighting the importance of Indo-Nepal as well as regional trade MCCI officials maintained that an efficient logistics & transportation infrastructure would be critical for strengthening India’s trade and economic engagement with its neighboring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar. MCCI pointed out that as part of India’s new Logistics Policy, there are plans to create a ‘Center for Trade Facilitation and Logistics Excellence’ (CTFL) in partnership with the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), which will bring together key stakeholders (relevant central ministries – Roads, Rail, Shipping, Civil Aviation and Customs, PGAs and relevant state governments), private players, industry associations and academia.
Of India’s total trade with the neighboring countries (Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Myanmar), over 55% is through land based trading points. CBIC has designated 109 border trading locations as ‘Land Customs Stations’ (LCS), of which 85 are operational. The adequacy of infrastructure at these LCSs, including warehousing, examination sheds, parking bays etc. as well as seamless movement and faster clearances by regulatory agencies like Customs, FSSAI, Plant and Animal Quarantine will be critical to increase the overall trade across India’s borders, highlighted MCCI officials.