Bangladesh direct-ships garment exports to Europe

| Update:
05 February 2022 15:54:54

The container ship Songa Cheetah is expected to arrive at Chattogram Port on Saturday and depart Monday for Porto di Ravenna in Italy on the first direct commercial cargo voyage from Bangladesh to Europe, reports

Seen as opening a new door to boost Bangladesh’s garment exports to its biggest market, the trip is expected to put an end to the time-consuming and costly transportation of goods.

Currently, Bangladeshi companies ship their products to Europe from Chattogram through ports in other regions along the way. Exporters have to wait a long time to book ships from these ports, which increases the time and cost of transportation.

With faster and cheaper delivery, more European buyers should be interested in ordering clothes made in Bangladesh. Countries in other regions, such as the United States, may also wish to opt for drop shipping from Bangladesh.

Chattogram Port Authority Chairman Rear Admiral M Shahjahan said they will give Songa Cheetah a direct berthing facility so he doesn’t have to wait any longer. The authorities will also prioritize the technical and administrative support of the vessel.

Rif Line, an Italian logistics company and its partner Kalypso Compagnia di Navigazione SPA Italy launched the trip after several European buyers expressed their eagerness to ship directly between Bangladesh and Italy.

Another vessel, Cape Flores, arrived in Bangladesh directly from Italy with empty containers during a trial last month. Songa Cheetah and Cape Flores will now continue their cargo operations on the road.

Mohammad Rashed, chairman of the initiative’s local agent, Reliance Shipping and Logistics Limited, said Songa Cheetah is expected to dock at Chattogram Port on Saturday afternoon with 945 empty twenty-foot equivalent (TEU) containers and seven containers with capital machinery.

It will leave on Monday with 983 TEU containers, 98% of which will be used for exporting garments to Italy and some other European countries. It should reach Italy after 16 days.

“Fares will be 35-40% lower than normal due to direct travel. Two ships will continue service for now. More ships will be added if the initiative proves successful,” Rashed said.


Bangladesh has direct cargo links with Singapore, Colombo in Sri Lanka, Klang and Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia and some Chinese ports.

Smaller vessels are used to transport containers to these ports as Chattogram Port lacks seaworthiness. From there, large ships transport goods to Europe and other destinations.

Bangladeshi exporters have struggled to send goods to Europe and the United States amid a shipping and container crisis for months after the COVID-19 pandemic began to ravage the world.

Exporters have been counting losses due to extra shipping costs and time, said Khairul Alam, vice president of the Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association. He said he offered direct shipping to Europe and the United States during a meeting with apparel exporter group BGMEA. “Many thought it was an unrealistic proposition.”

Now, the direct freight service will save around $6,000 per 40 feet of cargo, for which an exporter would pay $16,000, he said.

“Buyers will be happy for two reasons now [saving of time and money]. This will strengthen Bangladesh’s position. New buyers will be interested in Bangladeshi products if they get them faster and cheaper,” Khairul said.

“This trip will not only export goods to Italy, but also open a new horizon for Bangladesh’s exports to Europe,” said Rakibul Alam Chowdhury, Vice President of BGMEA.

The drop-shipping service will cut delivery time by 50 percent in addition to lowering costs, he said. He thinks other European countries, such as Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece and Spain, will start taking goods directly from Bangladesh if the Chattogram-Ravenna trips are successful. “It will be fruitful if more and larger ships are put into service.”

Chattogram Port Authority chairman Shahjahan said the Songa Cheetah voyage will have a “revolutionary effect” on Bangladesh’s economy. “The goods were directly shipped from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Hong Kong and China to Europe. I hope we can continue this operation and save time and money.

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