Privatized ports speed India trade

Privatized ports speed India trade

India's economy, which expanded at an overall rate of 8.1 percent in 2003, began to accelerate in the last quarter, growing at an annual rate of 8.9 percent, according to Ashok Tomar, deputy consul general of the Indian consulate general in New York.

Total merchandise trade grew by 17.8 percent last year and is likely to grow by almost 20 percent this year, Tomar told a seminar at the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College in New York.

In 2004, exports will grow by 13.48 percent, and imports by an even faster 24.86 percent. The rapid increase in trade is being aided by the continuing privatization of ports, where containerized traffic grew by 19 percent in 2002 over the previous year.

Turnaround time for container vessels unloading at Indian ports averaged 3.5 days in 2002, less than half the 7.5-day average in 1997 when the ports were state-owned.

"We continue to work on getting (productivity) up to Singapore and Hong Kong levels," Tomar said.

-- Peter Leach