The ports are key
According to the Indian shipping ministry, no less than around 95% of the country’s trade by volume is carried out by maritime transport.
In the light of the fact that almost the entire volume of goods traded with India is transported by sea it does not come as much of a surprise to learn that the country’s ports and the efficiency and operability of their infrastructure are at the very top of the government’s list of priorities.
These figures are not very surprising, as India, the 16th-ranked maritime nation worldwide, has a coastline that extends to no less than 7,520 km. The government’s support for the port sector thus seems to be nothing more than a natural course of action to help promote trade and national economic development.
Thus the national laws allow foreign investment of up to 100% for port construction and maintenance projects. Over and above this the government has also established tax breaks for enterprises that develop, maintain and operate ports, inland waterways and inland ports, granting them a ten-year tax holiday for the purpose.
The Sagarmala programme
According to the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), a government trust run under the ministry of commerce and industry, Sagarmala, a national perspective plan for port-led prosperity, is a key prong in the government’s strategy. By March it had tackled 224 projects for the modernisation of ports and hinterland connections. India’s twelve major and 200 minor and intermediate ports are all included in the scheme. Further projects are also in the pipeline in the context of the Sagarmala programme, including plans to develop ten key coastal economic regions.
Besides this series of investor-friendly measures the shipping ministry, which is in charge of the Sagarmala programme, announced in May that it is now allowed for foreign-flagged ships to carry containers to and from India for transhipment. On top of this the ministry also released a grant-in-aid of approximately USD 3.8 million to the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) under the Sagarmala programme, as well as about USD 7.7 million to the government of the southern state of Karnataka for the infrastructure development of the port of Karwar.
According to a report released by a national transport committee, India’s cargo traffic handled in its ports is expected to reach approximately 1.7 billion t by financial 2021 / 2022. In this context, projects with investments of approximately USD 10 billion in the ports sector have been identified and will be awarded over the coming five years.