Chittagong port’s container-handling capacity increased by 18 per cent this January than last year’s, a good sign of keeping constant pace with the handling in the last few months.
This January, the major boost was noticed in case of handling 112,095 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of import containers compared to 87,984 TEUs in January 2023.
In case of handling outbound shipments this January, the country’s key seaport handled 63,634 TEUs of goods containers, slightly up from 62,727 TEUs last January.
The port, which handles 92 per cent of seaborne containerised trade of the country, also handled 49,139 TEUs of empty outbound containers and 7,841 TEUs of empty inbound ones.
In January 2023, the port handled 36,179 TEUs of empty export containers and 10,892 TEUs of empty import ones.
A senior port official told the FE that goods import was remarkably low until March 2023 due to containing the opening of letters of credit (LCs) strictly.
The government contained imports amid a severe dollar crisis since the war began in Ukraine in February 2022.
However, the government relaxed belt-tightening measures since March 2023, resulting in a rise in import to a significant level. The trend continues.
“Import will rise further in the coming months,” hoped the official.
A finance ministry official said goods import in February and the following months would rise further as a large number of LCs were opened to import commodities for holy Ramadan.
According to him, the central bank is not showing strictness like in the past. Thus, the opening of LCs is rising.
“If the inflow of foreign currency improves to some extent, the import of goods will grow further,” said the official.
Abul Kalam Azad, a garment factory owner in Dhaka, said containing the opening of LCs had a significant impact on the economy and manufacturers faced a severe problem in importing raw materials for factories.
“Many factories had to cut production due to non-availability of raw materials,” he added.
However, Mr Azad thinks the situation has been changing slowly with they are allowed to open LCs.
Export earnings are thus rising every month, according to him.