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Garment exporters keen on using Colombo port

Local garment exporters are keen on using the sea port in Colombo as it would save them time and money.

“In the era of fast fashion a shorter lead time gives you a competitive edge as there are so many competitors,” said Siddiqur Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

In the absence of a deep sea port in Bangladesh, local exporters cannot send goods directly to the final destinations in Europe and the US. Vessels carry goods to Singapore, from where they are taken to their final destinations.

But the Port of Singapore is running past its capacity, so goods are stuck there for long, according to SK Mahfuz Hamid, vice-president of the Container Vessels Owners’ Association of Bangladesh.

If the goods bound for Europe can be shipped via Sri Lanka instead of Singapore, exporters will be able to cut the lead time by 15 to 20 days.

“The cost of shipping would halve too,” Hamid said, adding that up to 30 days can be shaved from the lead time as well.

The Colombo port is running at only 30 percent of its capacity, he said. Using the Colombo port instead of the Port of Singapore is very much a practical choice for exporters now, Rahman said.

“The cost of doing business has increased a lot, but our profits are declining,” he said, adding that the BGMEA will send a team to Sri Lanka to discuss ways to use the country’s port at a discounted rate.

The movement of goods from Bangladesh would be much easier and less expensive if they were shipped from Dhaka’s Pangaon port and carried to India’s Vishakhapatnam before they were sent to their end destinations, Hamid said.

The government needs to bring a little change to the Bangladesh India Coastal Shipping Line Agreement, he said, adding that the third-country containers are not allowed to carry goods between the ports in Bangladesh and India under the current law.

“We have been lobbying with the government to amend the law,” he said.

Hamid said they had sent a letter to the BGMEA earlier last month, urging it to agree to ship goods using the Colombo port via Vishakhapatnam.

Courtesy -The Daily Star

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