Goa-based Mormugao Port Trust, the leading exporter of iron ore, is shifting its focus to China from Japan.
Goa's iron ore export has came under extreme pressure hit by the recession in the Japanese auto industry. For the first time in the history of the port, the exports have fallen below 50 per cent.
In spite of Japan importing only 45 per cent (8.42 million tonnes) of Goa's total iron ore exports, the Mormugoa Port could still show four per cent rise mainly due to a sudden spurt in Chinese imports, from mere 16 per cent (5.38 million tonnes) last year to 42 per cent (7.8 MT) this year.
"I am confident that the trend would continue at least for the next two decades with China becoming our trusted customer," a confident P K Mohanty, chairperson of MPT said. He refuses to buy the argument that it is a temporary phenomenon due to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Though what Goa has exported to China is not even five per cent of its total iron ore imports, Mohanty feels the demand would increase as China continues to focus more on infrastructural development.
He, however, has no answer as to why Japan, the traditional customer of Goan iron ore, is showing a consistent decline for the last few years. Goa was exporting almost 58 per cent of its iron ore to Japan until 1996, against today's 45 per cent.
Interestingly, except substantial rise in exports to North Korea (from 0.8 MT to 1.08 MT), no other country from among the total 16 buyers have shown any significant rise. As a matter of fact, countries like Netherlands and Belgium have reduced its import quota while Romania, Germany, Turkey, Kuwait and Oman have stopped buying from Goa.
In spite of this trend and the fact that iron ore constitutes over 97 per cent of Goa's exports, the MPT has achieved the highest ever figure of 23.65 MT of port traffic, including 4.38 MT of imports. Mohanty, however admits that MPT's ranking has fallen to the eighth position with both JNPT and Paradeep ranked higher.
Besides improving the overall efficiency of the port, the MPT is now concentrating more on increasing its capacity to handle larger iron ore carriers, by dredging and deepening the draft from 13 to 15 metres. "It would help in increasing our volume by three million tonnes," states Mohanty.
In spite of all such odds that restrict the cargo flow, the MPT has shown a quantum jump in its net surplus, to Rs 37.2 crore from Rs 7.72 crore last year. "We are still not satisfied with our performance and need to achieve more," says Mohanty.