Another trainload of newsprint coming from Russia to India

Fifty-three 40-foot containers of newsprint on way

The train started from Oktyabrskaya Railway’s Nigozero station and will follow the international north-south transport corridor. Photo iStock

A full container train loaded with newsprint and other paper products from Russia is on its way to India through the eastern branch of the North-South transport international corridor, central Asian media reports quoting RZD (Russian Railways) Logistics. 

The train started from Oktyabrskaya Railway’s Nigozero station and will follow the international north-south transport corridor’s (INSTC) eastern route via Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and then from Iran to Chennai, the reports said. Another report in Businessline said that from Iran, the consignment will follow the sea route to the Chennai port. RZD Business Active provided thirty-two 80-foot flatcars to transport fifty-three 40-foot containers of newsprint. 

India had imported 1.5 million tons (MT) of  newsprint in 2018-19, 1.3 MT in 2019-20 and 1 MT in 2020-21, as the Indian Printer and Publisher had reported earlier. Total consumption was 2.5 MT in 2018-19 , 2 MT in 2019-20 and 1.5 MT in 2020-21. The deficit was met through domestic production.

Another report by Statista says the value of newsprint imported to India stood at Rs 2,567 crore (US$ 980 million) in FY 2022, Rs 2,199 crore (US$ 698 million) in FY 2021, Rs 4,952 crore (US$ 296 million) in FY 2020 and Rs 6854 crore (US$ 344 million) in FY 2019. The Businessline report says this is the second such consignment from Russia to India via the INSTC. In June last year, RZD Logistics and Nurminen Logistics sent a train with thirty-two 40-foot containers from Vuosaari in Finland to Mumbai via the Bandar Abbas port. 

The INSTC route, through ports in Iran and Azerbaijan, halves the transport time as it avoids the circuitous sea route through the Suez Canal. “This route option should become an opportunity to receive the necessary cargo guaranteed and on time in order to support the guidelines set by the government of the Russian Federation to increase twice the capacity of the INSTC,” Russian Railways Logistics said in a press release.

Sergey Levin, deputy general director for Commercial Activities of Russian Railways Logistics told the Central Asian media in the past year, that it worked hard to make transportation along the North-South corridor an affordable and effective alternative for domestic shippers.

According to Andrey Kochkin, deputy head of the International Transportation Department of Russian Railways Business Asset JSC, negotiations are underway within the framework of the project to increase shipments on the eastern route via Sarakhs to India and Iran.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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