FNCCI delegation leaves for India

Kathmandu, January 19

A delegation of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) led by its Vice President Dinesh Shrestha left to Kolkata today, to hold talks with association of shipping firms and request for withdrawal of demurrage charges.

Consulate General of Nepal will facilitate in arranging separate meetings with Association of Shipping Interest in Calcutta (ASIC), Kolkata Port Trust (KPT) and Nepal Clearing Agents’ Association (NCAA).

The demurrage charges have been escalating as Nepal-bound cargoes have remained stranded at Kolkata Port, border points and private Container Freight Stations (CFS) in Kolkata due to prolonged border blockade by agitating Madhesi parties.

The detention charges levied by shipping liners have also soared as the containers unloaded in the country have been detained here for long. Shipping liners normally provide grace period of 14 to 21 days for their containers to be returned once they are dispatched for Nepal from Kolkata Port. And the KPT extends grace period of 10 and 20 days to release cargoes ferried via road and rail, respectively.

“Additional cost in trade accrued due to border blockade has shot up unimaginably,” said Pashupati Murarka, president of FNCCI.

Moreover, port rent and charge of private CFS are also high. It is also reported that the delegation of FNCCI will also hold discussions with KPT to waive the rent accrued in view of the difficult situation in Nepal.

On January 4, Ministry of Foreign Affairs had also circulated a letter to diplomatic missions based in Kathmandu to take up the matter with concerned authorities in their respective countries for exemption of such demurrage and detention charges payable by the Nepali importers and exporters to the concerned shipping liners.

FNCCI delegation has also been visiting concerned mission heads in Kathmandu to draw their attention regarding the problems being faced by Nepali traders.

The FNCCI delegation, during the planned meeting with NCAA — an association of Indian Customs House Agents (CHAs) which clears Nepal-bound cargoes — will explain about the harsh situation being faced by Nepali traders. CHAs sign a bond with shipping liners on behalf of the consignee (for Nepal-bound cargoes).

CHAs have been pressurising Nepali traders and freight forwarders to pay demurrage and detention charges, which are said to have exceeded INR six billion. CHAs have reportedly said they will not release the cargoes until demurrage and detention charges are cleared.

FNCCI had also sought support from the UN agencies like International Trade Centre, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and International Maritime Organisation to tackle such problems.

As per FNCCI, Rajan Sharma, president of Nepal Freight Forwarders’ Association; Pradeep Kumar Kediya, president of Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Abinas Bohara, immediate past president of Morang Merchants’ Association; Mukesh Rathi from Morang Merchants’ Association; and Shiva Shankar Agrawal, president of Chamber of Industries Morang, are part of the delegation.