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Hapag-Lloyd adds ad-hoc vessel to mitigate India-US capacity pressure

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HAMBURG : Hapag-Lloyd has deployed an ad-hoc/extra-loader sailing this month out of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA)/Nhava Sheva and Mundra, India’s two busiest container gateways, for the US East Coast.

The vessel Merkur Ocean is scheduled to call at JNPA/Nhava Sheva on 17 June, according to industry sources.

The additional sailing supplements Hapag-Lloyd’s premier Indamex 2 (IN2) routing on the same trade lane, operated in conjunction with CMA CGM.

The weekly service has the following rotation: Port Qasim, Nhava Sheva (JNPA), Mundra, New York, Norfolk, Savannah, Charleston, New York, and Port Qasim.

Industry sources say securing vessel space for USEC/USWC has been a challenge and with some extra capacity being phased in, the situation is expected to improve and Indian exporters have an opportunity to secure more spot bookings.

Ocean capacity has generally been tight across Indian trades after global sourcing demand for Asian goods exploded following the lifting of initial Covid-19 lockdowns.

However, carriers argue that they have been constantly working to expand loading capacity and equipment flow to keep pace with rising export demand out of India.

‘The shipping lines have already taken steps to increase the availability of both equipment as well as space ex-India,” said Sunil Vaswani, Executive Director of the Container Shipping Lines Association (CSLA). “During the year 2021, 1.85 million TEU of empty containers were repositioned into the country to cater to the export demand. Besides, capacities ex-India were increased by about 33,000-35,000 TEU a week to global destinations.”

The Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO) continues to express high optimism about sustained export growth after outbound volumes in April, the first month of the fiscal year 2022-23, hit a new monthly high, at US$40 billion, followed by US$37 billion in May, up 15.5% year-on-year.

“The highest-ever exports of over US$37 billion during May of a fiscal year shows the continuous resilience of the exports sector amidst rising global uncertainties,” said A Sakthivel, president of FIEO, in a statement. “The government has announced a slew of measures to support exports, however, there is a need to rationalise exports of raw materials to push value-added exports, augment container manufacturing, developing an Indian shipping line of global repute, and logistics support for the sector looking at the higher freight cost.”

Average rate levels on the India-US routes have been somewhat stable over the past two months.

According to the CN market analysis, contract rates in May remained steady at the levels seen in April — at US$10,100 per 20-foot container and US$12,700 per 40-foot box for bookings from West India to the US East Coast (New York), and at US$11,725 and US$14,765, respectively, for the US West Coast (Los Angeles). For the West India-US Gulf Coast trade, rates have remained stable at US$10,900 per 20-foot and US$13,700 per 40-foot container.

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