Centre's decision will affect exports: Exporters

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Kakinada, Apr 12 (UNI) The Centre's decision to ban cement exports and withdraw incentives on exports of rice and primary steel items, as a measure of controlling inflation, will have adverse affect on the age old anchorage port, according to various exporters here today.

''We thought that the ban imposed on export of non-basmati rice will be a temporary affair and it may be relaxed at any moment. But the latest foreign trade policy decision to withdraw the incentives came like a bolt from the blue. We have to search for alternative businesses to compensate the loss,'' Mr Agarwal, a leading rice exporter, said.

The port had achieved a record handling of 40.19 lakh metric tonnes of cargo last year, and the major chunk of exports were rice, he added.

Against the total 29.27 lakh metric tonnes of cargo exported last year, rice alone comes to 20.25 lakh metric tonnes, similarly, cement exports constitute 19,488 metric tonnes.

''The port, that depend on the agricultural products for exports, will certainly face problems now. It has to depend upon other agri-products such as maize, soyabean meal extraction. As a result, the cargo handling at the port will drastically come down by more than half or less than 15 lakh metric tonnes this year,'' Cocanada Chamber of Commerce Chairman Dantu Suryarao said.

Port Steel Barge Owners Association President B Ramamurthy said ''the workers are already affected due to diversion of traditional cargo such as iron ore and raw sugar to the deep water port.'' ''The shipping trade is also equally worried over the future. We have to depend upon maize, solvent extractions and rice bran for exports which are also limited and seasonal. The Maize stocks are over and we have to wait for another three months for the new crop to come into the market. The coming three months are very critical,'' Mr Arun Chapekar, a leading steamer agent said.

He said the shipping trade was now in second thoughts over construction of godowns in the port lands leased out to them recently, as creation of infrastructure without proper demand would serve no purpose. No one would like to invest without proper returns, he added.

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