Shipments meant for ensuing Christmas, New Year seasons lying in ports

Export consignments from India to the US are held up at Colombo and Singapore ports due to the ten-day long labour disruption at the US ports. The disruption has affected global shipping schedules, with ‘mother’ container vessels - large ships that call at important ports - failing to call on these ports on time.

This disruption has had its effect on Indian exports too, said an official of a large shipping company operating to the US who is not authorised to talk to the media.

“Yes, we are nervous as some of the shipments lying with us may be required for the ensuing Christmas and New Year seasons. The regular schedule has been affected and we need to do some catching up in the next few days,” he said.

The labour strike was resolved late on Tuesday evening at the west coast ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach. These ports handle nearly 40 per cent of the total containers that comes to the US. There are media reports from the US stating that disruptions could move to the east coast ports now. Though there is no official data, trade sources said that from Chennai, garment accounts for over 30 per cent of the export to the US followed by granite, reefer and general cargo.

Since most export consignments for Christmas had been despatched a few months in advance, the impact has been minimal, said Tyagu Valliappa of Bangalore-based Sona Valliappa Textiles.

According to Vijay Mahtaney, Managing Director, Ambattur Clothing, there has been a congestion problem at the ports, causing a 3-4 week delay in last-minute Christmas shipments. “Some buyers had panicked and wanted urgent shipments for Christmas to be sent by air at their cost,” he said.

The National Retail Federation of the US noted that supply chain stability has been seriously challenged over the past few months. Initially with the contract dispute at the East and Gulf Coast ports, then by the Hurricane Sandy, which closed the Port of New York/New Jersey, and more recently by the strike at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. In response to these challenges, many retailers have instituted costly contingency plans in order to avoid shipping disruptions and delays.

As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad.

raja.simhan@thehindu.co.in

swetha.kannan@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on December 7, 2012)
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