India Plans New Shipping Firm, Aims At Fleet Expansion

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India plans to set up a new shipping company to expand its fleet by at least 1,000 ships in the next decade, as Asia’s third-largest economy seeks a bigger chunk of revenue from surging trade, two government officials said.

New Shipping Firm

The yet-to-be-named firm will be jointly owned by state-run companies in the oil, gas and fertiliser industries, which would provide it with business, along with the state-run Shipping Corp of India and foreign companies.

India’s oil and shipping ministries did not respond to requests for comment.

The aim is to reduce freight outgoings to foreign firms by at least a third by 2047, said the sources, who sought anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

“Current estimates show freight costs will rise to $400 billion as we boost our exports and imports by 2047,” said one of the sources, who has direct knowledge of the matter.

Indian companies paid freight costs of $85 billion in the financial year 2019/20, of which $75 billion was paid for use of foreign vessels, the source added.

The turn to foreign carriers comes as India’s shipping fleet has not kept pace with its surge in trade, including imports of energy and exports of refined oil products.

India has a fleet of about 1,500 large vessels including tankers, gas carriers, container ships and dry bulk carriers, the sources said.

In January India’s oil and shipping ministries agreed that all state-run oil companies and the planned company work together, a government document seen by Reuters showed.

Maritime Development 

The new firm will be based at GIFT IFSC, a financial centre in Modi’s western home state of Gujarat that aims to compete with hubs such as Singapore by offering fiscal incentives and a more streamlined regulatory environment.

It would draw seed capital from a maritime development fund of roughly Rs 30,000 crore ($3.6 billion) the government plans to set up in a tie-up with major port authorities, the first source said.

To secure low-cost, long-term loans for financing ship-building, the two ministries want state-run companies to sign 15-year charter deals with the new firm.

That represents a shift from the current practice of booking specific voyages or one- or two-year charters.

“In return the state-run companies can also become stakeholders in the new ship owning and leasing entity,” the source added.

“The plan is to consolidate the government-side cargo demand from other ministries, mainly the energy and fertiliser cargoes.”

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Source: BusniessStandard

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