Apparel exporters have made a call to allow alternative entry points for their raw materials to resolve the issue of transit delay caused by frequent congestions at the Benapole-Petrapole customs point.
They alleged that trucks now take 20-30 days to cross the borders as against maximum 3-7 days during the pre-Covid period.
As many as 8,000 trucks keep waiting at the main customs station to cross the Bangladesh-India border, leading to the delay, says Faruque Hassan, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), in a letter to Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem, chairman of the National Board of Revenue (NBR).
"This is increasing total lead time for garment manufacture in Bangladesh for the Western buyers and the buyers have started to divert lots of the Indian raw material-based orders to be produced in India locally or to Sri Lanka although these orders are bound for Bangladesh and buyers prefer Bangladesh," he said.
Import flow of raw materials through Benapole port is on constant rise due to additional demand from Bangladesh, he said, requesting to consider the proposal with utmost urgency.
"The transit delay continues to increase with added raw materials' flow and is putting Bangladesh RMG sector into competitive disadvantage," he wrote.
Talking to the FE, Mr Hassan said shifting dependence on Chittagong sea port and Benapole land customs station is important to ease load on those and expedite release of goods.
Due to excess lead time and higher demand in the west, buyers cannot afford longer lead time for transit, he said.
The apex body of apparel exporters urged the NBR to allow import of yarn and fabric through some land customs stations (LCS) including Sonamasjid-Mahadipur, Gojadhanga-Bhomra, ICT Akhaura and Agartola.
The BGMEA president said time has come to allow import of yarn and some other raw materials through land customs stations to facilitate trade.
The RMG exporters' association recently placed the proposal with immediate, short and long term solution to reduce the massive jam in Petrapole-Benapole border, which is impacting garments manufacture and export.
Currently, apparel exporters are allowed to import yarn, fabric and cotton as bonded commodities only via Benapole port and Chittagong port.
As an immediate solution, the apparel exporters proposed to approve Pangaon port for clearing multiple consignee materials (LCL container) in a single container.
Currently, Full Container Load (FCL) container consigned for one single consignee is allowed through Pangaon.
With minor changes, fabric suppliers from India can divert large quantities of fabrics via Kolkata port to Pangoan port and can reduce the jam.
The BGMEA also proposed to approve the Summit Alliance Port Limited for textile yarn and fabric import under pass book scheme and general bond.
Some additional custom infrastructures may be necessary but against it will ease the load of Benapole-Petrapole.
The association also proposed to allow import of textile, yarn and fabric under pass book scheme through Mongla Port.
It also demanded that Chittagong, Pangaon, Mongla and Summit Alliance Port Limited be approved for unloading textile, yarn and fabric under break bulk movement.
The apparel exporters also sought approval to import textile yarn and fabric (under pass book scheme) through Akhaura, Malda land port requesting NBR to take necessary steps to set up customs clearance procedure.
For train movement, the BGMEA proposed to approve rake movement from India till Kamalapur ICD station directly and have multiple lines.
It demanded separate railway line in Benapole-Petrapole border crossing to take RMG raw materials directly to Kamalapur ICD station to avoid long delay in train container transit and jam in the highway.
Currently, there is a single train line in this major border where movement of perishable goods gets priority.
As short-term solutions, the BGMEA proposed to scale up infrastructure by building a bonded warehouse for storage of material at Pangoan for storing and sorting of LCL consignments easily.
It also proposed to increase warehousing capacity of Benapole port.
© 2022 - All Rights with The Financial Express