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EU pushes Bangladesh to allow container round use, allow more goods at off docks

The European Union (EU) has requested Bangladesh to introduce the provision of round use of containers for all shippers to facilitate trade.

The system will cut the shortage of equipments, cut lead times, and transport costs significantly which hamper Export Import (EXIM) trade in Bangladesh. Currently, the equipment shortage is also a big problem worldwide.

EU said all other countries, including India, permit empty containers from importers to be used by exporters to make shipment.

According to officials, presently, only the shippers of Export Processing Zones are allowed to round use of equipments, which the government introduced in October 2020.

The other importers return empty boxes to container freight stations (CFS) near Chittagong of which some are reused for exports while the rests are shipped as empty containers.

Every month some 50,000 to 60,000 TEU of empty containers are being sent back abroad through Chittagong port. On the other hand, every month several hundreds to thousands of empty boxes are imported for their use to export goods.

The procedures cost the shippers extra, while many vessel operators fail to take bookings in absence of suitable containers.

The EU ambassador in Dhaka, Charles Whiteley in a recent letter to Bangladesh’s foreign minister Dr. A K Abdul Momen requested to reduce empty runs of import containers by allowing the use of them for export without having the empty boxes go back the depots.

Also, in the letter the ambassador sought approval for interchange of empty containers between Dhaka rail terminal and Dhaka’s two river terminals namely, Pangaon Inland Container Terminal and Summit Alliance Port Limited.

For adoption of global ports’ best practices for decongestion in Bangladeshi ports, Whiteley also suggested that customs clearance of all import containers have to be done outside the port area.

He wrote that currently only 37 types of goods laden import containers are directly shifted to the nearest inland container depots. The rest, some 75% of total import volume of the country, get customs clearance inside the port area creating logjam.

Sharar Nayel
Asia Correspondent

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