New Agreement Boosts Indian Subcontinent Trade
Evergreen Line is teaming up with K Line, COSCO, Wan Hai and PIL to offer two new joint services between China and India from early September. Both will provide direct calls at Karachi and Mundra and will improve current transit time.
The PMX (Pakistan Mundra Express) service will use six ships of 4,200 TEU and call at Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo, Singapore, Port Klang, Karachi, Mundra, Colombo and Singapore once more before returning to Qingdao. The first sailing on the Evergreen Line's service is scheduled to depart from Qingdao on September 4.
The PIX (Pakistan India Express) will employ five ships of 4,200 TEU. This service is scheduled to commence with a sailing from Jiangyin (Fuzhou) on September 8 and call at Hong Kong, Nansha, Shekou, Singapore, Port Klang, Colombo, Karachi, Mundra, Port Klang and then back to Jiangyin.
In addition to providing efficient shipping service between China and Northwest India as well as Pakistan, Evergreen Line says the new regional services will further expand its global service network by improving connectivity via its transshipment hubs in Singapore, Port Klang and Colombo.
India’s transshipment capability boost
However, India is boosting its own transshipment capability which currently forces inbound and outbound containers to take a detour to regional hubs before heading to their final destination. An Indian conglomerate has started building the country's first transshipment port, conceived 25 years ago, and the government will construct another $4-billion facility nearby to create a shipping hub rivalling Chinese facilities in the region.
Once Vizhinjam, in the south-western state of Kerala, is operational the federal government will start building the port of Enayam in neighboring Tamil Nadu, said a senior shipping ministry official earlier this year.
India's 7,500-km (4,700-mile) coastline juts into one of the world's main shipping routes and Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to capitalize on that proximity by developing ports that can shift freight on to huge vessels capable of carrying up to 18,000 20-foot containers.
By bringing onshore cargo handling now done at entrepots in Sri Lanka, Dubai and Singapore, Modi's government expects cargo traffic at its ports to jump by two-thirds by 2021 as India ramps up exports of goods including cars and other machinery.
China viewed as a threat
India is worried about China's expanding reach in the region through port investments in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the Maldives. China is also developing Pakistan's Gwadar seaport as part of a $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
China had also wanted to partner with an Indian company to build the Vizhinjam port, but its proposal was rejected by the government on grounds of national security.
India has not banned Chinese firms from investing in its ports, but takes a cautious approach as most ports are also used for "strategic purposes", said a shipping ministry source.