‘Milaha stays committed to expanding presence in India’


India has become a fast-growing market of strategic interest to Qatar-based maritime and logistics conglomerate Milaha (Qatar Navigation), a senior official said during the recently-held ‘Qatar-India Business and Investment Conference’.

In a panel discussion during the conference, Milaha senior VP for corporate development and communication Gautam Bellur said India is a large and fast-growing logistics sector with a $138bn market with an expected 11% to 16% growth per annum to 2022.

Bellur also said 35 out of the top 50 global logistics companies are already in India, attracting strategic and financial investors with opportunities both on-land and in coastal shipping services. “Although infrastructure challenges exist, there is strong growth and an improving regulatory framework, which should drive growth and streamline supply chains,” he said.

Bellur said India’s strength in technology is reflected in innovative logistics companies, citing firms like Rivigo and Delhivery.

According to Bellur, Milaha is committed to expanding its presence in India in sectors such as warehousing and consolidation, non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC), container and bulk shipping, and ship management.

On areas of opportunity for Qatar and India trade, Bellur said there has been significant increase in direct trade volumes across multiple categories since June 2017.

“We believe there is a lot of opportunity with India-Qatar trade; we’ve seen over 300 commodities where Qatar either increased imports from India by over 75% or newly-started importing from India. That should give you an idea how large the volumes can be and are expected to be,” he emphasised.

Bellur said there are different supply chains required to serve regional customers across major categories, including pharmaceuticals, foodstuff, project cargo, automotive, and bulk cargo. “There is great opportunity to enable trade growth by strengthening direct supply chains through investment in assets and infrastructure, use Qatar as a light manufacturing or assembly and distribution hub for the region, and use Qatar as a transshipment hub for the upper Gulf,” he said. Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the conference, Bellur said over the last three years, Milaha started direct services or NDX from a shipping perspective, covering two ports in India with Hamad Port.

“Milaha is expanding that. We’ve now got five weekly services into that region, so the cargo flows are quite significant directly into Qatar. Going forward, we’ve just started a service in the eastern side between Colombo and Chittagong.

“We’re also looking at coastal services on the east coast of India and we’re looking at setting up logistics operations in India, as well in the near future,” Bellur said.