The first direct cargo ship between Bangladesh and China, operated by the Switzerland-based Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), left the Chattogram port on Tuesday.
The ship MSC KYMEA is scheduled to reach Hong Kong by picking up more containers from Singapore on the way.
As the bilateral trade between Bangladesh and China continues to rise, MSC has launched a shipping service called "Bengal Express" on the China-Bangladesh route, to facilitate direct shipping between the two countries.
According to MSC sources, the ships operating under this new service will load container goods from the Hong Kong port and the Chinese ports of Yantian and Shekou.
On the return trip to Chattogram port, these ships will load up more containers from the ports of Singapore and Malaysia.
MSC will initially operate four cargo ships on this route and two more ships will be added to the fleet subsequently. At least one ship carrying goods from China will arrive at Chattogram port per week.
The container ship MSC KYMEA arrived at Chattogram port jetty on 20 May with containers full of imported goods.
On Tuesday afternoon, the ship left for China carrying a total of 1,292 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), of which 439 units were full of apparel goods.
According to Marine Traffic, which provides real-time location of ships, MCC KYMEA left Chattogram port at 5:30 pm. It will reach Singapore port on 26 May.
The new route will allow ships to carry goods from China to Chattogram via several other ports in just 12-13 days, reducing the current shipment time by half, said sources at MSC.
Currently, it takes about 25 days for regular ships to reach Chattogram port by loading and unloading goods at transshipment ports.
A senior official of MSC, on condition of anonymity, told TBS, "The new service will not allow ships to unload cargo at transshipment ports but they can pick up containers. So the cargo from China will reach Chattogram in 13 days. This will allow importers to transport goods in less time and at lower costs."
At present, 19 ships of various shipping lines are transporting goods from China to Chattogram port via transshipment ports.