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American Shipper

India weighs one-terminal limit on private operators

India weighs one-terminal limit on private operators

   India's Ministry of Shipping is considering a regulation that would bar terminal operators from managing more than one container terminal in any one port.

   The ministry said the move would ensure that one operator didn't have a dominant position in any of the 12 major ports under the national government's direct jurisdiction.

   According to a report Monday by India's Exim News Service, two major container terminal developments are in limbo due to a lack of clarity on the issue. One of the projects is in Maharashtra, home to India's largest container port complex, the Jawaharlal Nehru/Nhava Sheva port, near Mumbai; and the other is in Tamil Nadu, home to Chennai, the country's second-busiest container port.

   Bids for a fourth terminal in Nhava Sheva were recently thrown out by the local port authority, with two private operators said to be filing a case over their exclusion from the bidding process. APM Terminals and DP World operate two of the three existing terminals at the port, with the government operating the other.

   India has had a recent history of tightly controlling which private companies and countries can participate in the development of its ports sector. The government has all but banned terminal operators based in China from developing container terminals.

   In other news, a government panel in India has recommended restricting short-sea shipping in the country to Indian-flagged ships, Mint reported Tuesday. The recommendation has come at the request of domestic ship owners, who are wary of foreign carriers providing cabotage services in the container, gas, oil and offshore industries.

   The development of India’s short-sea shipping industry has been stymied, analysts say, by a lack of foreign inclusion. Currently, foreign vessels are only allowed to ply domestic routes in situations where no domestic carrier can provide service, and only then after receiving special approval from the country’s maritime regulator.

   If the new rules are passed, it would require a carrier to use an Indian-built ship, or convert a foreign-built ship to the Indian flag.

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