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Shippers ready to tap trade

DFQF access to China


Syful Islam | March 16, 2019 00:00:00


With China granting all Bangladeshi products duty-free and quota-free (DFQF) access shortly, freight carriers are all geared up to tap business, officials said.

The shippers are readying themselves for more vessel deployments on the potential Chittagong-China route.

Tobacco and maize aside, all the major Bangladeshi products like apparel, leather, jute and jute goods, pharmaceuticals and frozen fish will be on the list.

A trade official in Dhaka made the disclosures.

Bangladesh is going to get the free access facility under a Chinese zero-tariff treatment scheme for least developed countries (LDCs).

A deal has to be done with China so that Bangladeshi exportables can enjoy the zero-duty benefit under 97 per cent Chinese tariff lines.

"Due to DFQF facility, bilateral trade will grow substantially. More vessels will be needed," said a senior official of Hyundai Merchant Marine, one of the largest container carriers.

Hyundai has several vessels that run between Chittagong-China and Korea, he told the FE.

"We've sought permission for three more vessels to ply the route," the official said.

"Bangladesh-China trade is growing every year. Cargo is also available. The Chittagong port can approve more vessels for the route without hesitation," he viewed.

A representative of another container carrier operator in Chittagong said the port is now free of congestion for collecting necessary equipment like key gantry cranes in recent months.

Vessels only need 48 hours to unload imported goods and load export items. No vessel has to wait at outer anchorage nowadays unlike a waiting time months ago.

The rep said scope is there to allow more vessels to ply from Chittagong port to other destinations.

Contacted over telephone, Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) chairman Zulfiqur Aziz said some 104 vessels are given permission to ply from the port.

Eighty vessels regularly carry goods to and from the country's premier seaport, he told the FE.

Mr Aziz acknowledged that a good number of vessels, who applied for permission to ply connecting Chittagong port, are awaiting permission.

A committee will recommend how many of the transporters could be permitted to ply, he said.

The CPA chief, however, thinks that the number of permitted vessels is good enough to carry goods to and from Chittagong port.

"I have no information that goods wait at port for a lack of vessels," Mr Aziz mentioned.

The Sino-Bangla trade is over $11 billion.

Bangladesh's imports from China stood at $10.19 billion in fiscal year 2016-17 and exports to the world's second largest economy at $949.41 million.

syful-islam@outlook.com


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