The government has started conducting a feasibility study on introduction of direct container feeder vessel service between Chittagong and two African ports, officials said.
The two ports are Port of Durban in South Africa and Port of Tanger Med in Morocco.
A high-powered inter-ministerial body, led by an additional secretary of the ministry of shipping (MoS), has been formed to conduct the study.
The committee comprises representatives from the ministry of commerce, chairman of Chittagong port, the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), Bangladesh Container Ship Owners Association, Bangladesh Container Shipping Agents Association, and Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association.
The committee was tasked with examining the possibility for starting of feeder vessel service and possible outcomes of introduction of direct transport service.
Officials said a delegation of the parliamentary standing committee on the ministry of shipping visited the two ports in January last to gain experience in port operations there.
The port authorities welcomed the Bangladesh delegation and suggested that a direct feeder service can be started between Chittagong port and the two African ports. They also offered Bangladesh assistance for port related technical and infrastructural development, and marine services.
Presently, vessels from Bangladesh and African ports reach their destination through Colombo, Singapore, and Malaysian transshipment ports. Use of transshipment ports involves higher costs and more time.
Introduction of a direct feeder service may help both Bangladesh and African states find new export market and sourcing arena, as well as save costs and time, they said.
A senior official at the MoS told the FE that the Bangladesh Shipping Corporation (BSC) is buying a good number of vessels which will be added to its fleet from next July. With the vessels bought by BSC, several direct feeder services can be launched to tap both new export markets and foreign currency by carrying export-import goods.
The official also said Bangladeshi exporters are still largely dependent on the USA and European markets. Until now, Bangladesh's export to African nations is very meagre.
He said new feeder vessel service will assist the exporters find new export markets and earn huge foreign currency.
The official also said Port of Durban is the largest and busiest shipping terminal in sub-Saharan Africa and a major trade gateway between South-South trade, Far East trade, Europe and USA, East and West Africa.
A direct connectivity with the port, bypassing the transshipment ports in Singapore and Colombo, will further facilitate Bangladesh's cargo carrying in the American region, he added.
© 2023 - All Rights with The Financial Express