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RAJKOT : "We have thrown a pebble in the pond and its ripples are spreading now." This is how Raj Khalid, who represents Port of Antwerp in India, summed up the first roadshow organized by the port on Wednesday.
In fact, this was the first ever roadshow-cum-seminar organized by any international port in Saurashtra's commercial capital, which is the hub of engineering goods and auto parts in India.
"It was a historic moment for Rajkot exporters and forwarders as no other port has ever approached them with such detailed information on easing their supply chain logistics to tap the international market," Khalid, former trader commissioner to Flanders, told TOI.
The seven-member delegation led by Luc Arnouts, its international working director also included Babette Desfossez, customs attache of Belgium, Peter Huyghebaert, Consul General of Belgium in Mumbai and other top officials of the Port of Antwerp.
Besides the forwarders and exporters, representatives of AP Moller Maersk Terminals Port Pipavav also participated in the seminar to highlight the fact that they have direct shipping lines from their port to Antwerp now.
Among the major concerns of exporters and forwarders was the customs procedure at Antwerp. "They were surprised to know that it takes less than two minutes to get custom clearances for goods as the entire system is based on algorithm and there is no human interface involved," Khalid added.
According to rough estimates, around 2,000 containers are exported from Rajkot through various ports including Mundra and Mumbai's Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT).
One of the biggest takeaways were the savings they could achieve with a smooth supply chain and delivery system due to efficient ports.
"The purpose of meet was to encourage exporters to take a closer look at their supply chain to get optimum efficiency, delivery times and costs. Often manufacturers look within the factory and the manufacturing process to get efficiencies when they may well lie beyond the factory walls," added Khalid.
The Port of Antwerp had organized the roadshow in association with Velji Dosabhai, the largest forwarder in Rajkot, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) and the Saurashtra Vyapar Udyog Mandal (SUVM).
Parag Tejura, president of SUVM, said, "Exports of small and medium scale units in Rajkot have scaled up to Rs 300 crore after we organized three international conferences in the last two years. The meeting was very cordial and we hope more foreign ports will come and showcase their facilities now."
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