THE Port of Chittagong posted a 3.32 per cent growth in container handling in 2019, the
slowest in seven years, pointing to a slowdown in economic activity,
reports the Dhaka Daily Star.
Port users have blamed Bangladesh's foreign trade being sluggish for the lower growth in the port's annual container throughput.
The port handled 2.89 million TEU, including import, export and empties in 2019, up from 2.80 million TEU the year before.
It handled 2.60 million TEU in 2017 and 2.35 million TEU in 2016. The
country's largest seaport port recorded a 9 per cent growth in 2018,
9.36 per cent in 2017, and 15.94 per cent in 2016.
"Though year-on-year growth in container handling was a bit lower last
year, the port still maintained positive growth,?said Chittagong Port
Authority secretary Omar Faruk.
"This is not surprising at all,?said Zahid Hussain, former lead economist of the World Bank's Dhaka office.
"Exports and imports have both declined. These are the fundamentals that
drive the growth of container handling. There is indeed a slowdown in
the economy,?he said.
Different types of commercial items, machinery, commodity, chemical
products and all sorts of industrial raw materials except those used in
cement and ceramics sector are imported through containers while
export-oriented items are solely carried through containers.
"The country's major export-earner readymade garment sector has been
experiencing negative growth in the last few months and it was also
reflected in the port's annual container throughput,?said Nasir Uddin
Chowdhury, chairman of the standing committee on port and shipping of
the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Overall earnings from the merchandise exports between July and November
fell 7.59 per cent to US$15.77 billion. Lower shipment of apparel items,
which accounted for more than 80 per cent of the national exports,
contributed to the decline.
Between July and November, garment exports declined 7.74 per cent to
$13.08 billion, data from the Export Promotion Bureau showed.