Government allows imported containers to remain at Indian ports for up to nine months

#container shortage, #Covid-19, #EXIM, #Exports, #imports, #pandemic, #Shipping container

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The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs on September 24 allowed assistant commissioners to grant permission for imported containers to remain at Indian ports for a period of up to nine months, the government said in a notification.

The government earlier this month had allowed imported containers to remain at Indian ports and be re-used for a period of six months till March 31, 2022, the new notification allows containers to remain in India for a period of three more months if permission is granted by an assistant commissioner.

The move to allow imported containers to remain at Indian ports and to be reused is expected to help ease containers available presently for export of containerized cargo and with aim of promoting export of laden marine containers, the government said.

Under normal circumstances, empty imported containers are not allowed to be reused or remain at Indian ports, and are returned to their original destination.

India’s exporters are facing a huge shortage of empty containers in the wake of disruptions in the global supply chain and the Indian government is considering speeding up the movement of empty containers from ports to the hinterland for loading export goods and stoping empty boxes from being taken out of the country to help improve the availability of containers.

The acute shortage of standard 20-feet equivalent unit shipping containers, used to ship almost all merchandise goods, is part of the second wave of the shipping container crisis, which began in late June. Since then, average charges for renting containers have risen by 3-5 times, a senior Commerce Department official said.

Experts note that the reduction in the number of shipping vessels operating as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to fewer empty containers being picked up, leaving many containers in inland depots and stuck at ports for long durations.

Long waiting times at key ports such as those in the US due to congestion are also contributing to lengthening the turnaround time for containers.

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