Ripples from Ever Given crisis reach India, with SMEs being hit hardest

As the fallout from Ever Given cascades through container supply chains, it’s getting more difficult for Indian forwarders to secure shipping capacity.

According to Rakesh Pandit, CEO of Conbox Logistics: “Not only are European shipments running late, but we’re seeing a lot of cancelled bookings placed in March from countries such as Italy, Turkey and Spain – we have a backlog of 300 teu from Europe to India in just the last 10-days.”

“Due to this, we have started recommending that customers break up bookings of 10 containers or more, into smaller lots of two-to-five per shipment, but even then it’s not always possible, due to documentation issues.

Mr Pandit said shipping lines were also giving preference to some sectors over others by “quoting too-high rates” and pricing ‘unwanted’ cargo out of the market.

However, while SMEs may be suffering, India’s total exports saw a massive 58% year-on-year increase in March, to $34bn, according to the Federation of Indian Exports Organisations (FIEO), with the engineering, gems and jewellery and pharmaceutical sectors leading the growth.

FIEO also noted exports for the financial year, ending March, were down 7%, to $290bn, however, following the volatility experienced last year.

“Despite issues with container shortages and the movement of ships through the Suez Canal, exports have crossed $290bn, which is extremely good growth considering the Covid-19 challenges,” FIEO said.