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JNPT free trade zone draws US interest.

Date: 23-03-2017
Subject: JNPT free trade zone draws US interest
Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust’s long hunt for private investors in a special economic zone (SEZ) meant to generate additional cargo volumes amid growing competition from nearby private rivals appears to be bearing fruit.

Officials from the US consulate in Mumbai and the American Chamber of Commerce in India this week visited India’s busiest public harbor to explore investment opportunities in industrial manufacturing and high-technology at the SEZ.

"JNPT is aggressively on the move to develop this SEZ project in 277 hectares [about 685 acres] of land area to be developed under the EPC [engineering, procurement and construction] model,” JNPT Chairman Anil Diggikar said, addressing delegates. “The free-hold land area of JNPT is aimed to bring more than Rs. 5,000 crore [approximately $765 million] of investment in the SEZ, mostly from port-based industries."

The SEZ is designed with a 494-acre site for processing activities and a 190-acre zone for non-processing operations. Authorities have already obtained all mandatory government approvals for the project, which has received an Rs. 468 crore state grant toward basic infrastructure development at the site.

The industrial zone project was kicked off during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to JNPT in August 2014, and a global tender for private participation in development works was released in November last year. The first phase, involving an estimated investment of Rs. 3,500 crore, originally had a three-year completion period, but it’s already running behind schedule because of delays tied to funding issues and a lack of investor interest.

The JNPT SEZ is a key part of New Delhi’s much-publicized Sagar Mala program, under which the Modi government is aiming to create a manufacturing-led, export-driven economy via domestic and foreign private investment.

In the meantime, the public port looks poised to surpass last fiscal year’s all-time throughput high of 4.49 million 20-foot-equivalent units (TEUs) thanks to brisk cargo movements this month after a slowdown in February. The newest port statistics collected by JOC.com show JNPT’s volume from April until Wednesday morning reached 4.36 million TEUs, compared with 4.35 million TEUs year-over-year.

Terminals at JNPT together account for roughly 40 percent of India’s total containerized trade.

Source: joc.com

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