How shipping containers became a goldmine for shipping companies but drowned out small exporters

Containers being unloaded from a ship at Adani Ports and Mundra Special Economic Zone, Gujarat

Synopsis

“Containers are like currency. You have to bring them back,” says Anil Devli, CEO of the Indian National Shipowners’ Association. But over the past two years, the pandemic-induced disruptions have caused many bottlenecks for this currency to move freely through major ports around the world. Supply chains are stuck in an imbalance between supply and demand and skyrocketing logistics costs. Normalcy is miles away.

Two key events of the 15th century are still highlighted in the history books. Columbus discovered America. Vasco da Gama founds India. A third factor then shaped world trade: maritime or ocean transport. It has gradually established itself as the preferred means of transport compared to other modes. Because it is one of the cheapest and most ecological. So much so that maritime transport now represents 95% of import-export trade (EXIM)

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