'PM assures of expediting amendment in shipping laws'

Written by: Pti
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Kerala, Jul 7: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Saturday said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has promised him of helping expedite relaxation in shipping laws to benefit the international transhipment container terminal at Vallarpadam.

Chandy said the Prime Minister assured him that he would direct the Shipping Ministry to expedite the matter.

Inaugurating the Kochi office of the Federation of Indian Export Organisation (FIEO), Chandy said that during his visit to New Delhi last week, he met Singh to discuss the issue regarding amendment of cabotage (shipping trade and coastal navigation) laws for facilitating foreign feeder vessels to carry transhipment containers between Vallarpadam and other Indian ports.

"Prime minister promised us that he will direct shipping ministry to expedite this," Chandy said.

The matter has been represented before the Centre and in-principle it has agreed to change the law. The change in cabotage law is 'highly necessary' for optimum utilisation of the Vallarpadam terminal, Chandy said.

Kerala exports spices, cashew and handlooms items, among others, but the state needs to increase exports for which there is a need to develop infrastructure, including coastal transport, Chandy said.

Besides the Vallarpadam terminal here, two other major ports at Vizhinam in Thiruvananthapuram and Azhikkal in Kannur and other minor ports would be developed in the state to promote coastal transport and boost exports, he said.

The formalities with regard to tender process of the Vizhinam project was over and final discussions are on.

Minister for Consumer Affairs KV Thomas also stressed upon the need to have better infrastructure for improving exports and said the state needs highways of international standards.

He said there were limitations in investments from the State and Central governments and favoured charging a toll from road users.

Thomas also said there is a need for a definite firm policy on exports.

Director General of Foreign Trade Anup K Pujari said that so far this year, India has exported 54 million tonne rice, 12.5 million tonne wheat, 7 million tonne Sugar and 122 lakh bales of cotton and 188 million cases of cotton yarn.

The government this week abolished the minimum export price (MEP) on basmati rice to boost outbound shipments.

"Basmati rice can be exported without any MEP," a notification by DGFT had said.

Earlier this year, the government had lowered MEP on basmati rice to USD 700 a tonne from USD 900 a tonne to make it more competitive in the global market.

Pujari said exports for all products should have a stable policy as changes in policy lead to various difficulties including loss of face.

Pujari said complaints had been received from Kerala with regard to low qualities of cashew and arecanut being imported and flooded in the market. There is a need to have specific information in this regard, he said.


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