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Block train helps Maersk Line expand in Nepal

MUMBAI: January 03, 2018. Responding to a Nepalese import market that has doubled in the past five years, Maersk Line says it wants to increase its block train service from the port city of Visakhapatnam on the Bay of Bengal to five or six frequencies a month.

In June 2017 Maersk moved the first-ever container shipment from Visakhapatnam to an Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Birgunj in Southern Nepal via the 'Kathmandu Express', an exclusive block train service with a guaranteed fixed transit time.

Steve Felder, Maersk Line representative for India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives, said his company wants to be a long-term trade partner in the region.

Maersk Nepal"We will be opening our commercial office in Kathmandu in the first half of 2018. We intend to carry this commitment ahead for the Nepal market by providing customers with a seamless experience through both Kolkata and Vishakhapatnam," he explained.

Maersk Line's "Chennai Express" container service calls at Vishakhapatnam every week in support of what the company describes as an "end-to-end delivery mechanism" that includes online payment, handling documents, electronic Delivery Order issuance and clearing cargo in Nepal.

The latest report on Nepal by the Asian Development Bank says the country produced a growth rate of 6.9 percent last year as a result of a favorable monsoon that led to a better harvest, normalization of trade since February 2016, and acceleration of post-earthquake reconstruction work.

However the ADB expects the country's economy to grow at a lower rate of 4.7 percent in FY2018 due to the mid-August 2017 flooding that destroyed lives, crops and livelihoods in Southern Nepal.

The Industry sector, buoyed by increased supply of electricity and availability of construction materials, is forecast to expand 6.6 percent this year while the services sector is expected to grow 5.5 percent due to an expanding wholesale and retail trade, financial services and travel sectors.

Nepalese merchandise exports rebounded last year from a low base following the normalization of trade in February 2016. Exports increased by 9.7 percent to NPR82.1 billion, or 3.2 percent of GDP, from a drop of 23.8 percent the previous year.

Merchandise imports, fueled by remittances, increased 29 percent during the latest 12-month period to reach NPR977.9 billion, or 37.6 percent of GDP. As a result the country's merchandise trade deficit widened by 31.4 percent to reach NPR895.8 billion, or 34.5 percent of GDP, said the ADB. 

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