Indian ports weighed down as coronavirus chokes supply chain

A customs inspector standing and reviewing a tack of containers

Thousands of containers from China are currently stuck at ports in India as documents needed to process them remain unsigned by shippers in areas badly affected by the coronavirus outbreak, according to national media.

The Hindu Business Line has reported that goods are congesting many of India’s 12 seaports because the Customs Department cannot clear them without a Bill of Entry (BoE).

A BoE contains information of all goods inside a container and is presented to customs for processing by the consignee.

Consignees can face severe fines if a BoE is not submitted within 24 hours but The Hindu Business Line cites a circular from the Commissioner of Customs, Chennai, on 14 February, which suggests a possible waiver of fines on containers from China.

On 31 January, China offered force majeure to businesses that couldn’t fulfill contractual obligations amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

India’s imports from China are worth approximately $73 billion annually and both countries are key components of the global supply chain.

The coronavirus outbreak has caused substantial uncertainty across the supply chain and threatened to cut China off from the global economy.

On 20 February, Maersk, the largest container shipping line in the world, said the outbreak had made it more difficult to forecast growth in the next 12 months.

Port Technology International has published two exclusive insights into the coronavirus outbreak, the first on ports and shipping and the second on the wider supply chain.

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