The Chattogram port has dropped nine notches on the list of the 100 busiest ports in the world in terms of container transport in 2020, slipping from the 58th to 67th position.
Lloyds, a London-based shipping news outlet, published the list on Monday night (23 August), as it does every year.
In the list, Panama's Balboa port was ranked 58th. The port handled around 28.94 lakh twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) of containers in 2019.
In 2020, the port handled around 31.61 lakh TEUs of container, which is 9.2% higher compared to 2019. In 2019, Balboa Port was ranked 66th in the Lloyds list.
According to the Chattogram port, it handled 30.88 lakh TEUs of containers in 2019. That year, the port was added to the "Three Millionaire Port Club" for the first time because it handled three million containers.
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, container handling at the port dropped to around 28.39 lakh in 2020, 2.48 lakh less than the previous year.
According to the Lloyds List, 63.2 crore containers were shipped worldwide in 2020, which is 0.7% less compared to 2019.
At the same time, container transport at the Chattogram port decreased by 8% compared to the previous year. As a result, the position of the port dropped nine ranks.
Since 2015, the Chattogram port continued to improve in the Lloyds list, but in 2020, the progress got disrupted. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic reduced container shipping on international sea routes and that had an effect on the Chattogram port.
In 2010, the Chattogram port ranked 88th on the Lloyds list. Then it ranked 89th in 2011, 90th in 2012, 86th in 2013, 87th in 2014, 76th in 2015, 71st in 2016, 70th in 2017, 64th in 2018, 58th in 2019 and 67th in 2020.
Md Omor Faruk, secretary of Chattogram Port Authority, told The Business Standard that the only reason for losing position in the Lloyds list was the impact of the novel coronavirus.
"Due to the crisis in international trade at the beginning of 2020, the activities of the Chattogram port were limited like all other ports in the country. There is no question of the skill or capability of Chattogram port to lag behind on the Lloyds list," said Md Omor Faruk.
The Lloyds list is based solely on the calculation of container shipments at the respective ports, the sources said. The quality of port service is not considered there. About 27% of the total goods transported through Chattogram port is carried by containers. The remaining 73% is transported in bulk carrier tankers.
As much as 92% of the total trade of Bangladesh by sea is done through the Chattogram port and 98% of the total container transport is done through this major seaport of the country.
Mahbubul Alam, president of the Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, "The decline in import and export in 2020 is affecting the port's position on the Lloyds List. This crisis will decrease in the future and port's position in the will improve."
Shahed Sarwar, director of the Shipping Agents Association of Bangladesh, told TBS, "The Covid-19 had led to disruptions in the country's import-export trade in March, April and May in 2020. Most of the imported goods in Bangladesh come from China. At that time, the transportation of goods from China was stopped, which had an adverse effect on the transportation of containers."
"The situation improved a bit at the end of the year, but there was a big deficit in container transport compared to 2019, which has affected the port's position on the Lloyds list," he said.
"We are not worried about the Chattogram port's drop in rank in the Lloyds list. Currently the situation is becoming normal. We expect the position will be better next year," he added.
The port of Shanghai in China tops the Lloyds list published on 23 August. The port of Singapore is placed second in the list.