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Nepal-bound Cargo Containers Stuck at Vizag Port Since December

Electronic Cargo Tracking System
Image Courtesy: Maritime Gateway

Around 500 Nepal bound cargo containers have been stuck at Vishakhapatnam (Vizag) port since December 2017. The reason for the delay is lack of proper inter-agency coordination.

Why it matters:

  • The delay has affected the business of many Nepali importers, which also affects Nepali economy.
  • Rajan Sharma, former president of Nepal Freight Forwarders’ Association said, “Small and medium businesses have been hit hard due to lack of predictability,”. He also added, “This is gross negligence on the part of the Embassy because the Nepal mission in Indian capital should know that there is no presence of a consul general in Vizag like in Kolkata.”
  • Stating that transparency, accountability, and flow of documents are a must for trade facilitation, Sharma said that the government should make all the related agencies aware of the importance of trade facilitation and the cost of delays on the Nepali economy.

The Backstory:

  • Vizag is a new port opened for Nepal only last year. The Ministry of Commerce (MoC) had said that Vizag is a more efficient port than Kolkata/Haldia and that the cost and time of import and export could be minimized through Vizag.
  • However, the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi has neither forwarded the documents of the traders to the port nor communicated with the port authority of Vizag.
  • Therefore, the port authority in Vizag has not given clearance to the Nepal bound cargo.

What they are saying:

  • Madan Mittal, a member of Nepal Foreign Trade Association (NFTA), said that lack of coordination between the Department of Commerce and Nepali Embassy in New Delhi has been creating hassles in communicating with the Vizag port authority.
  • “As per the provision of the Nepal-India Trade Treaty, Nepali agencies have to correspond with the Indian agency through the Nepali mission in India,” said Mittal, adding, “We do not have a consul general in Vizag like in Kolkata and Nepali Embassy in Delhi has to correspond with the port authority.”

The Details:

  • The Department of Customs executes the Export-Import (Ex-Im) code and the Department of Commerce registers the trading firms.
  • The Ex-Im code needs to be shared with the cross-border Indian customs and various agencies related to the trade and tax administration under the national single-window system being developed by the Department of Customs.
  • However,these two agencies are yet to be interconnected to share the database of traders and registered firms.
  • Therefore, traders have urged for early implementation of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) with the gateway ports to facilitate the country’s trade system.

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