More than 2 years have lapsed since Bangladesh and Thailand signed a Memorandum of Understanding to launch a direct coastal shipping services between Chittagong and Ranong Ports but is yet to materiize due to bureaucratic hurdles including clearance from the Bangladesh foreign ministry.
EXIM trade in both Bangladesh and Thailand were upbeat about the move as it would save time and cost. . . But much to their frustration the initiative has yet to be implemented.
Chattogram Port Authority sources were quoted by media reports saying that the issue of direct shipping between the two ports is pending with Bangladesh foreign affairs ministry. Direct shipping through the Chattogram-Ranong route can be launched after the Bangladesh’s foreign ministry’s final nod, said sources at the Chattogram Port Authority. The facility will reduce the transit time between the two ports from 10 days to three days, and cut shipping cost by around 30 per cent. According to the Bangladesh Shipping Agents’ Association, Bangladeshi goods are currently transported to Thailand through transshipment ports such as Singapore, Port Kelang in Malaysia, and Colombo in Sri Lanka. At present, the shipping cost from Chattogram to Ranong port is 700 US dollars per container because of the transshipment cost..
Traders have expressed their disappointment over not launching direct shipping between the two countries after signing the MoU, saying the faster the goods can be transported on this route, the more the Bangladesh businesses will benefit. Launching direct shipping services between Chattogram and Ranong will create significant trade potential. Direct transportation of goods by ships has already been started with various European countries, which has reduced time and import cost.. Local freight companies are capable of operating ships on the Chattogram-Ranong route, said people involved in this sector.
Launching direct shipping between Chattogram and Ranong ports will create a new market for shippers according to EXIM trade. Ships with a 7-metre draught and a capacity of 10,000 tons or 700 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) should be operated on the route. Local private companies can easily operate ships on this route. Bangladesh exports jute products to Thailand, while imports pulses, gypsum, tyres, fruits, dry fruits, footwear items, readymade garments from that country.