New direct shipping service with China begins this month
Under the service, vessels will sail from Hong Kong and connect with Yantian and Shekou in Southern China before calling on Singapore and Tanjung Pelepas ahead of their arrival in Chattogram
A new weekly China-Bangladesh container vessel service will make its debut in the last week of this month, creating an opportunity to quicken the country's import and export trade.
Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) SA, a leading global container shipping line, is going to launch the service, called "Bengal Service", to provide customers with a direct link between South China and Chattogram.
In addition, the service will enable connections for Bangladesh's imports and exports via transshipment hubs in Singapore and Tanjung Pelepas of Malaysia, MSC recently said on its official website.
As the first voyage under the service, MSC Kymea will sail from Hong Kong on April 27 and is expected to arrive at Chattogram on May 11.
Under the service, vessels will sail from Hong Kong and connect with Yantian and Shekou in Southern China before calling on Singapore and Tanjung Pelepas ahead of their arrival in Chattogram.
On the return voyage, the vessels will pass through Singapore and Tanjung Pelepas once again to reach Hong Kong.
Ajmir Hossain Chowdhury, head of operations and logistics at MSC, said they have applied to the Chattogram Port Authority (CPA) to get permission for four of its vessels to operate the service.
"Initially they would arrive in Chattogram port each week while we have plans to increase the number of voyages gradually," he said.
Chowdhury went on to say the service would cut travel time of the country's import cargoes by at least 15 days and export to some extent.
It currently takes at least a month or more for cargo from China to reach Chattogram via the transshipment ports of Singapore and Tanjung Pelepas, where goods often lie idle for 10 to 12 days due to congestion, he added.
Around 60 per cent of the raw materials required by local garment factories are brought from China.
Syed Nazrul Islam, first vice president of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said direct shipping services to and from China would be very helpful as Bangladesh imports a lot of raw materials from the country, especially for the garments sector.
"The initiative will reduce time and costs and eventually help Bangladesh become more competitive in the global market," Islam added.
Three shipping companies currently have China-Bangladesh services. They are Sealand Asia, a concern of Mearsk, Sinokor and HMM Joint Services, and CNC Line, a concern of the France-based shipping and logistics provider CMA CGM.