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Ships bound for Russia make their way back

Shipping liners carrying around 3,000 such containers worth billions of dollars are unable to move ahead or return (Photo: Reuters)Premium
Shipping liners carrying around 3,000 such containers worth billions of dollars are unable to move ahead or return (Photo: Reuters)

While some shipping liners insist on additional fees to return the undelivered containers to India, some exporters are scrambling to find overland routes to get them to their destination or find new buyers for these goods in other countries.

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NEW DELHI : Thousands of shipping containers that left India for Russia are stranded across ports in Europe and West Asia as the war in Ukraine gums up transport logistics worldwide. While some shipping liners insist on additional fees to return the undelivered containers to India, some exporters are scrambling to find overland routes to get them to their destination or find new buyers for these goods in other countries.

Shipping liners carrying around 3,000 such containers worth billions of dollars are unable to move ahead or return, two shipping industry executives aware of the matter said. According to the executives, many exporters have been trying to bring back their stuck exports, but shipping liners have asked exporters to pay demurrage and detention charges first. Demurrage is the charge an exporter must pay for using a container within the terminal beyond the free time period, while detention refers to the fees for its use outside of the terminal or depot beyond the free time period.

Exporters unable to pay up face the prospect of incurring significant losses. Along with the option of returning their products, exporters are also looking at new buyers for their stuck products, the people cited above said.“Although a few ships with Indian exports are returning now, there are several containers still stuck at various ports," said one of the two people cited above.

This comes amid a shortage of vessels and containers as US and European curbs on Russia and its businesses drive up crude prices and shipping costs.

Ajay Sahai, director-general of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations, said the customs department is creating systems for faster clearance of reimported goods. The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs is preparing a comprehensive standard operating procedure (SoP) for such reimports, a government official aware of the development said.

Exports to Russia are moving through the Chinese port of Quindao, and also through Turkey over land, exporters said. Chahbahar port in Iran is also being used by some exporters, and after the sea route, containers are taken via road from Azerbaijan to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries.

Queries emailed to the spokespersons for India’s ministries of shipping, finance and the CBIC remained unanswered till press time.

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