The import and export of containerised cargo through the Bangladesh’s principal seaport in Chittagong, which is responsible for handling bulk of exports and imports including apparel shipments, fell in the first quarter of the current fiscal when compared with the same period of previous year.
Reports maintained this adding that this indicates a slowdown in foreign trade resulting from global economic downtrends even as they added the overall container handling at Chittagong Port has also come down to its lowest in September.
As per data from the Chittagong Port Authority (CPA), 3.53 lakh TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of import-laden containers were unloaded at the port in the last three months till September this year, which is 3.26 per cent less than that of the same period last year.
Chittagong Port has a total of 16 jetties in the Karnaphuli River channel, of which 15 jetties had vessels on Saturday, and on Friday there were 13 ships at the jetties, according to data released by Chittagong Port Authority (CPA).
However, the jetties have not remained vacant in recent years.
“For the last few days, imports at the port have been decreasing slightly, as a result of which the number of ships coming to the port has also decreased. The import of fruits, luxury goods, and some food products has reduced,” said Mohammad Omar Faruq, secretary of CPA.
Sources concerned said usually, imports decrease slightly after the budget every year, but this time, other factors including the ongoing dollar crisis might have impacted the import trade volume.
According to the sources of Chittagong customs and traders, the import of wheat, sugar and some major consumer goods has decreased by 20-25 per cent in the current fiscal year 2022-23. Compared to last year, imports of these products fell by at least four lakh tonnes in the first three months of this financial year.
“At present, there is no congestion at the port and in some cases the jetty is empty. Such a situation has not been seen in recent years,” said Syed Mohammad Arif, president of the Bangladesh Shipping Agents’ Association.
Usually, the ships have to wait for 24 hours to berth at the port jetty, but now ships at the port get on-arrival berthing due to low traffic, he added.
Port sources said due to less activity at the port, the area of Jetty No-1 and 2 is being kept empty. Various maintenance works including dredging are now going on there.
There were about 40 ships at the outer anchorage of the port on Saturday. Among them, there are 13 clinker carriers and 17 general cargo carriers, three fertiliser ships, and two food product carriers. The rest five vessels are oil tankers.
Though imports of general consumer goods and luxury goods are down, imports of clinker and scrap are normal. As a result, general goods are being unloaded at the inner jetty of the port.
However, the movement of containers at the port’s two main container handling terminals, Chittagong Container Terminal and Newmooring Container Terminal, is normal, a Saif Power Tech official said.