ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
India-Myanmar container service ‘needs time’
The new India-Myanmar shipping container service transporting produce between Myanmar and India will need time to get off the ground, according to the secretary of Myanmar Pulses, Beans and Sesame Seeds Merchants Association.
U Min Ko Oo, secretary of the association, told Mizzima on December 2 that that this season is not high season for beans and pulses, primary products for export to India.
U Min Ko Oo was responding to a December 2 news report in The Economic Times that claims the India-Myanmar container service had “run into a rough patch” just two months after it was launched. The story said questions were being raised over the sustainability of the service after initial container shipments posted a loss.
Officials say that at this rate, the service will use up all of its contingency funds in the next five months if cargo volumes do not pick up, according to the story in The Economic Times, the business section of The Times of India.
Container ships from India are reported to be 90 percent full, but the return journeys with produce from Myanmar have been limited.
However, the story noted that the government did not expect the service – part of the commercial outreach of India’s Look East Policy – to make a profit in the first year.
U Min Ko Oo sought to clarify that February to June is peak season when business will be brisk.
“India also buys at that time and it is the time for the merchants to send produce to market,” he said.
“The business [using shipping containers] just started in October and we should not be talking about a loss,” he said, adding the service needs at least a year to get underway.
Shipping Corporation of India, which is running the service, is hoping that the import of pulses in December will boost the cargo volumes from Myanmar to India. Among the proposals on board is allowing the ships to offer feeder services between Chennai and Colombo to boost its viability, according to The Economic Times.
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