The Financial Express

Cotton crisis looms in Bangladesh on feeder vessel shortage

| Updated: January 16, 2022 09:46:25

Cotton crisis looms in Bangladesh on feeder vessel shortage

Primary textile millers on Thursday expressed fear that the sector might face a crisis of cotton in March and onwards as the global shipping lines are showing unwillingness to carry containers to Bangladesh due to a shortage of feeder vessels and a lengthy unloading time here in the country.

They also feared suspension of production in spinning mills and rise in yarn prices in the local market if they failed to get cotton in time.

"At present, we are in an uncertain situation over the availability of cotton," said Mohammad Ali Khokon, president of the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA).

Though a couple of months have passed since the letters of credit were opened for importing cotton, the raw material consignments are not coming, he alleged, while addressing a press conference at the trade body's office in Dhaka.

Explaining the reasons, the BTMA president said shipping lines were reluctant to enter the Bangladeshi channel due to a shortage of feeder vessels.

In addition, inefficiency of the port has also been discouraging shipping lines to carry Bangladesh-bound cargoes as loading and unloading take more time causing additional anchoring charges for the mother vessels, added Mr Khokon.

He hinted that the local textile and readymade garment sector might face acute shortage of raw materials to meet their work orders for summer season to be placed in February and onwards.

The BTMA leader also alleged that it took five to six months to receive the cotton consignments after opening LCs as shipping companies were putting off Bangladeshi containers to the ports of China or elsewhere.

Bangladesh has to pay additional two to four cents for a pound of cotton due to the higher freight cost as container clearance in the country takes 10-15 days due to the complex customs procedures while other countries need three-four days, he added.

Responding to a question, the BTMA president said more than 100 members informed him verbally about the unwillingness of shipping lines to enter the Bangladeshi channel due to the shortage of feeder vessels and congestion in port.

Besides, the trade war between US and China also resulted in the containers being stuck in the ports of the two countries, he said.

He urged the government to look into the issue and take measures to increase the number of feeder vessels and improve the port facilities.

Citing statistics that import of polyester staple fibre increased by 75 per cent last year, he demanded duty-free import of all types of fibres to ensure product diversification, in order to meet the global demands.

The BTMA leader also demanded the government's policy support for a strong backward linkage industry to attract more investment, saying that the future success of forward linkage industry would largely depend on backward linkage industry.

Uninterrupted gas supply is also a must to help grow the trade, he added.

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