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Bangladeshi exporters could now find it easier to truck goods to India and then air freight shipments from Kolkata to Europe, following EFL Group’s first bonded cross-border service.
Apparel manufacturers have largely avoided the worst of the US tariffs, but many items are now subject to at least 10% – as a result, analysts have already seen significant growth in Bangladesh’s apparel market.
But Bangladesh has always been a difficult logistics market, with congestion issues at Chittagong port, and security problems at the airport.
While there has been “some progress” on ACC3 security certification, according to one airline executive, a trucking operation which bypasses both Chittagong and the airport at Dhaka is likely to gain some traction, especially with the fast-growing numbers of exports.
This month EFL transferred 4.1 tonnes of cargo from Bangladeshi trucks into GPS-enabled Indian vehicles at the border, which then travelled to Kolkata Airport, from where it was air freighted to Europe.
“This trial movement has proved Kolkata to be a strategic and a useful trans-shipment gateway for inbound and outbound air transportation to Bangladesh,” said EFL , and the company has followed the initial shipment with similar volumes.
In addition, EFL has a dedicated weekly 777 freighter service from Dhaka to New York, operated by Qatar Airways Cargo.
In a ban that was lifted in March this year, the UK forbade direct flights from Bangladesh due to security concerns. Exports transfer in the Middle East added time and cost.
While there are several freighter operations in Dhaka, Kolkata appears less well-served at present. Cathay Pacific has operated freighter services there, as has Qatar Airways Cargo and Uni-top, and there are several bellyhold carriers.
Bangladesh is already enjoying something of an export boost. One analyst told The Loadstar: “Fashion in particular is moving away from China, to Bangladesh, as well as Cambodia. Shippers will already be working on developing new supply chains.”
And since India gave Bangladesh duty-free market access, its exports to India have risen sharply: by 142% in the first quarter of this year.