Container shortage, freight cost hampering handicrafts export: EPCH

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In order to ensure that the handicrafts sector keeps growing at a brisk pace and continues to earn much-needed foreign exchange and provide livelihood to millions of craftspersons, it is important that the logistics system (availability and movement of containers) supports and complements the efforts of the artisans and exporters, the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH) has stressed.

Mr Ravi K. Passi, Chairman-EPCH, has drawn the attention of Mr Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Railways, Commerce & Industry, towards the problem of container shortage for exports and said that the ongoing Covid crisis has resulted in export growth being stalled despite business activity picking pace from the 2nd quarter. Any disruption in shipments at this critical stage would deal a severe blow to all the export promotion efforts of the stakeholders. He added that delays in shipments could also lead to cancellation of export orders.

Mr Passi thanked the Minister for his intervention in the past but drew his attention to a key problem hampering export growth – the charges being levied by the shipping lines for each container. It was pointed out that sea freight charges have increased manifold, with the problem further compounded by the rise in raw material prices. He urged the government to urgently look into the matter and help facilitate timely shipment of consignments so that exports from the country can continue without any hindrance.

He also requested the government to consider establishing a regulatory authority, through an enactment of Parliament, to control and monitor the pricing, terms & conditions and other provisions pertaining to the shipment of goods.

Handicrafts exports during April-February of the current financial year 2020-21 are estimated at Rs 22,774.58 crore ($3,062.76 million), registering a negative growth of 3.40% (rupee terms) and 8.31% (dollar terms) over the same period last year, the release said.