National, Front Page

New sea routes open doors to boost maritime trade

Published : 25 May 2022 09:30 PM | Updated : 25 May 2022 09:45 PM

Direct shipment between Bangladesh and other countries are likely to boost the country’s economic activities, reduce cost and save time. 

The authorities concerned are firmly confident that adding such new sea routes will give an incredible speed to the economic wheel of the country. 

One after another new routes are being added in the sphere of maritime trade of the country following the outbreak of Covid-19. This is opening new doors to boost maritime trade. 

Most of the import-export was conducted by transshipment through Singapore, Colombo and Malaysian Port Kelang. Besides the high transportation cost it was also time consuming. It takes at least 40 days for Bangladesh to get imported goods from Europe and America via Singapore and Colombo. When the launching of a direct route is completed, time will come down to 15 days. 

In the meantime, direct export of garments to Italy has already started. Bangladesh has already shipped garments to Italy twice in a row. 

According to Chittagong port sources, domestic importers and exporters and various shipping companies have started direct import-export activities by ship with Europe, China, UAE and even the United States.

There are direct routes with China. However, it is not large in size. As a result, four more ships have already been allowed to import and export goods directly to and from China to Chittagong port. Thus, the process of bringing goods by transshipment through the ports of Singapore and Colombo has been dropped and efforts have been made to make it direct.

Chittagong Port Secretary Omar Farooq informed the media that 45 percent of the total imports and exports of Bangladesh take place with China. But the cargo ships do not come directly. They come via Singapore transshipment which takes 15 to 17 days. However, direct shipping with China takes only seven days.

According to a survey conducted by Hamburg Port Consultancy, Chittagong port will handle 40 lakh TEUS containers by 2030. And in 2043 it will be upgraded to 56 lakh TEUS.

In the coming days, container handling through Mongla and Payra ports will increase. Besides, construction work of Patenga Terminal and Bay Terminal is in progress. Apart from this, the first phase of deep sea port at Matarbari and first phase construction of a jetty at Sitakunda port have started. Plans have been taken to build a jetty in Bangabandhu Industrial City at Mirsarai by the initiative of BEPZA. 

Once these ports are fully operational, the volume of container transport will increase to about 1 crore TEUs. Chittagong Port will handle about nine million TEUs out of the total transport containers.

Chairman of Chittagong Port Rear Admiral M Shahjahan said that following the direct shipping from Chittagong port to Italy is facilitating to start shipment with European countries of Spain and Netherlands. A Swiss-based company will launch the project with three ships. The ships are from Spain. 

The route will operate from Barcelona Port and Rotterdam Port in the Netherlands via Chittagong Port. By direct route, the product can be delivered to Barcelona in 20 to 21 days. It currently takes 35 to 40 days to reach the country via transshipment in Singapore or Colombo.