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Vivek Choudhary elected Chairman of Calcutta Freight Brokers Association at 80th AGM

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Mr Vivek Choudhary was elected Chairman of Calcutta Freight Brokers Association (CFBA) at its 80th annual general meeting (AGM) held at the Bengal Chamber of Commerce, Kolkata, on July 27.


Mr Ajay Chajjer was elected as Vice-Chairman, and Mr J. S. Chopra, Mr Rajiv Agarwall, Mr Pawan Farmania, Mr Bharat Jain and Mr Manoj Vyas were elected as Committee Members for the term 2018-19.


Welcoming the guests, the outgoing Chairman, Mr Rajiv Agarwall, said it was a great honour for him to welcome and address the gathering on the occasion of the 80th AGM of Calcutta Freight Brokers Association, one of the oldest Associations of freight brokers in India serving the shipping industry.


On behalf of the Association, he welcomed the chief guest of the evening Capt. Deepak Tewari, Managing Director of MSC Agency India Pvt. Ltd. He also welcomed members of the Bombay Overseas Freight Brokers Association who have always extended their support through their presence. Also present on the special occasion were officials from shipping companies across India and members of the media.


Mr Agarwall gave a brief overview of the international container trade and the shipping industry during the year 2017-2018. "The year 2017 was a year of consolidation and the shipping markets saw improvement after hitting rock bottom in 2016. There has been improved economic performance across the developed and developing world, including the maritime important Chinese economy," he said.


However, shippers noted that carrier performance has not been satisfactory between 2016 and 2017 primarily in four areas, viz. the range of available carriers, the range of different available services, the price of service, and the overall carrier service quality. This timeline corresponds closely with consolidation moves in the liner industry, Mr Agarwall added.


Coming to the present context, he said that the brewing trade war between the US and China is seen having varied effects on different parts of the shipping industry. While much will depend on if and when the tariffs actually come into effect, analysts seem to agree that the worst effects will be felt by the container shipping industry, exacerbating an already difficult situation with oversupply of capacity and slowing global trade. Due to the decline in trade between the US and China, the reduction in volumes would significantly affect carriers’ efforts to raise freight rates. Carriers’ reluctance to curb capacity increases has already started to hurt. Contract rates from May 1 are largely lower than last year despite higher operating costs, mainly due to escalating bunker prices. Shipping lines will come out fighting to address problems of overcapacity and weak demand and we could see some major changes along the way, he said.


Shifting focus on the performance of Kolkata Port, Mr Agarwall pointed out that in 2017-18, the container traffic handled by the port showed a growth of 3.18 per cent from 7,71,676 TEUs to 7,96,210 TEUs. In fact, the KoPT ranked 3rd among major Indian ports in terms of container traffic handled in 2017-2018. The Port Trust has been taking various steps to facilitate the ex-im trade by infrastructure augmentation, especially dredging, and trying to achieve operational efficiency by upgradation of equipment. However, there are still areas of improvement and the authorities should continue to strive for better conditions and facilities at the ports.


Turning his attention to friends and colleagues from the shipping lines, Mr Agarwall said, "Our relationship with them has lasted since time immemorial and I would make a humble request to them to encourage facilitation of trade by dealing with freight brokers rather than approaching shippers directly. Brokerage should be paid on total freight instead of basic freight, and only to registered freight brokers. By increasing business through brokers, the lines will benefit by enhancement of transparency in all sectors of shipping business, thereby improving overall trade scenario."


Finally, he made the point to the broking community that in the current industry scenario of surplus capacity and market consolidation, their role as market facilitator assumes greater significance… "it is our responsibility to provide true market feedback to the shipping lines. In order to survive in these market conditions, we need to look to expand the portfolio of services provided to the clients and strive for continuous improvement and customer satisfaction".


Highlighting the global scenario in the shipping industry and the challenges faced by the sector, Capt. Deepak Tewari, in his address, said that increasing global throughput is encouraging for the industry as a whole.


He said that the economic situation in India along with the ex-im trade is improving. He lauded the recent decision to relax cabotage for transhipment of containers which he said will benefit the shipping business and freight markets. He mentioned that the present tenure of vessel sharing agreement for 3 years will be beneficial to the freight brokers.


On the Sea Cargo Manifest and Transhipment Regulation, to be now implemented from November 1, 2018, he said it will revolutionise the way to manage the supply chain. Exporters have to be very clear about handling their supply chain. Shippers have to file their EGM before sailing. Registration by shipping lines and all associates will be totally online.


The new Port Community System (PCS 2.0), which may come into effect from November-December 2018, will digitalise the industry as a whole, he said. He hoped that the system will save manpower, and the market will be stronger with more developments in the port sector, new services and new initiatives. He stressed that CSLA’s continuous approach is towards a better shipping scenario while opting for a digital environment.


Mr Choudhary, in his vote of thanks, also requested shipping lines to pay brokerage on total freight as it used to be paid. He added that CFBA will continue to be a facilitator for its members while maintaining good relations with the shipping community for a better future.


Source : Exim News Service - Kolkata, Aug. 9


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