Exporters of the country are going to get direct shipping to two more European destinations – Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Barcelona in Spain – as three ships start operating from Chattogram port on 20 May.
The ships of Reliance Shipping and Logistics – the MV Spica, MV Andromeda J, and MV Music – will leave Chattogram every 15 days with export goods.
The Chattogram Port Authority (CPA) and exporters say this is good news for the country's exports. The sooner there is direct shipping to the United States and other European countries as well, the better it will be for the country's economy.
According to the CPA, direct shipping to Portugal, Slovenia, and the Middle East will also be launched soon.
Countries of the European Union use each other's territories and ports and there is scope for transporting goods from one country to another by road. As such, any cargo shipped to a European country from Chattogram port can be delivered to other European destinations by road.
On 7 February, the MV Songa Cheetah with 951 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) containers set sail for the Italian port of Ravenna. Italian shipping company Kalypso Compagnia di Navigazione SPA Italy is transporting Bangladeshi exports by two container vessels: the Songa Cheetah and the Cape Flores – both operated by Reliance Shipping.
Reliance Shipping Chairman Mohammad Rashed said the ships will reach their destinations in 20 days from Chattogram.
Currently, Europe-based container ships from Chattogram pass through Singapore, Colombo, Tanjung Pelepas and some transshipment ports in China before reaching major European ports such as Rotterdam, Antwerp, and Hamburg.
As such, it takes about 40 days for goods to reach Europe via various transshipment ports. When the three ships start operating to the Netherlands and Spain, delivery time will be reduced to 20 days. The shipping sector is expected to reduce the cost of transporting goods by about 30-40%.
According to Marine Traffic, the German flagged ship, the MV Spica, has a container capacity of 749 TEUs, the Cyprus flag bearing MV Andromeda J can handle 850 TEUs, and the container capacity of the Portuguese flag carrier, the MV Music, is 803 TEUs.
CPA Secretary Omar Farooq said on Sunday that the chairman of the port authority had approved a ship to operate on European routes. The ship will operate directly from Chattogram Port to Rotterdam Port in the Netherlands and Barcelona Port in Spain.
Rear Admiral Mohammad Shahjahan, chairman of the CPA, in an exchange of views with journalists on the occasion of the 135th founding anniversary of the port, also spoke about direct shipping to European and other countries.
M Shahjahan said several countries have expressed interest in signing memorandums of understanding (MoUs) for direct shipping to Europe. These include Portugal, Slovenia, and various countries in the Middle East. He said direct container shipping to these destinations will begin soon and applications from organisations interested in launching direct shipping services are being considered on a priority basis.
He said the CPA will provide all out cooperation for direct cargo transportation to Europe which will benefit exporters as well as brighten the image of the country. Cargo will be able to reach foreign buyers in less time if direct shipping increases, reducing freight costs substantially, and also saving time in delivery of goods. This will help Bangladeshi products do good business in the world market.
According to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the Shipping Agents Association, about 82% of Bangladesh's total exports are garments. Notably, 51% of Bangladesh's exports go to Europe.
BGMEA Vice-President Rakibul Alam Chowdhury said new shipping with European countries has created great potential for the country's exports. This is a great achievement for Bangladesh and it must be ensured that this service is not disrupted.