According to the Indian Ports’ Association’s (IPA) latest data, the state-owned ports handled 1.9 million tonnes (mt) of cargo in November 2022.
India’s 12 major ports recorded a combined traffic of 61.3 mt in November. Experts believe the slowdown in international trade has been the biggest factor behind this slow down.
They expect the slow momentum to continue in the near-term, with only minor increases or decreases depending on change in high-frequency economic indicators in western countries. Trade in finished goods has been especially weak, with the first seven months showing only 1.5 per cent growth in container traffic as against the last fiscal year.
Indian major ports handled record traffic of 70 mt in March this year, marking a robust end to a year filled with uncertainties amid multiple Covid-19 waves. Ever since the first quarter of this financial year, combined cargo at 12 major ports has not even crossed 65 mt, and for the last three months, it has been flat at 61 mt.
International trade concerns continue to weigh on the container segment. Meanwhile, overall cargo growth, which was in double-digits at the beginning of this fiscal year, stands below 9 per cent.
However, the growth has been due to disproportionate increases in commodities such as coal, which was due to a nationwide coal crisis, forcing the Centre to import more coal, and also push more coal out through the coastal route as railway networks remained choked.
While a dip in coal cargo is widely expected, experts believe that a push for coastal shipping of thermal coal by the Centre may ensure that the fall isn’t prominent.