Mr Foo said the time was right for India to allow other players to enter this segment, which forms a vital part of cargo movement from and to ports.

Our Bureau

Mumbai, Oct 26

THE Singapore-based global cargo transportation and logistics major, Neptune Orient Lines (NOL), has major investment plans in port and rail transport infrastructure development in India.

Mr Cedric Foo, Deputy President of the NOL group, said the shipping lines would be looking for investment in container terminal and port infrastructure development, apart from rail freight, after it is opened for private participation.

"We will be seriously looking at development of the fourth container terminal at Jawaharlal Nehru port and the proposed Ennore terminal," he told newspersons on Wednesday.

Referring to the initiative taken by the Government to de-monopolise Concor's hold on rail container movement in India by allowing private players to enter into this space, he said NOL, which operates rail freight in the US and other countries, would also be looking at this opportunity.

He added that the time was right for India to allow other players to enter this segment, which forms a vital part of cargo movement from and to ports.

He was not willing to specify the quantum of investments that the group will make in India, but said that there would be no restrictions as far as the upper limit is concerned; it would depend on the opportunities that emerge in the future.

Mr Foo was in favour of the concept of integrating the various port-related services into one package.

The integrated services should encompass ocean, rail, and road transportation of cargoes, he said.

NOL, with London-headquartered Drewry Shipping Consultants, has undertaken a comprehensive research on India's transport infrastructure, which revealed, "India risked missing out on an additional 1-2 per cent of annual GDP group unless the country improves its transport connections to meet the requirements of international supply chains."

He added: "India's ability to attract FDI for its manufacturing sector is highly dependent on transport sector capable of getting higher value range of manufacturers to global markets."

The research also said India has the potential to double its container capacity at ports from six million tonne TEUs in 2004 to 15.2 million tonne TEUs in 2012.

While China spent 20 per cent of its GDP, amounting to $260 billion, on infrastructure development, India's investment of $1 billion amounts to about six per cent of its GDP.

Mr Foo said the research showed that freight cost in India was 11 per cent of the landed cost of goods, while the global average was six per cent.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 27, 2005)
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