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Singapore clears decks

Hydrogen peroxide export boost likely ahead

FE REPORT | Saturday, 13 August 2022


Bangladesh's key chemical export item--hydrogen peroxide--may see a trade boost as the Port of Singapore has lifted shipment restrictions prompted by a tragedy.

PSA Corporation Ltd, the port authority of the island state, on August 10 lifted the embargo with immediate effect.

The port, which handles more than 60 per cent of Bangladeshi merchandise, called the halt on June 09 after the blaze at the BM Container Depot in Chattogram on June 04.

It is believed that the main reason behind the devastating fire in the depot was huge storage of hydrogen peroxide there.

The PSA Corporation order reads: "This circular supersedes HCSD/CC/L2205 on hydrogen peroxide restriction, with immediate effect."

The Inland Container Depots (ICDs) showed reluctance to store the chemical as shipping companies had refused to carry it due to the restrictions.

Besides, the shipping companies also argued that the packaging system of the chemical was very poor which may lead to onboard accidents on ships.

Samuda Chemical Complex Ltd, a subsidiary of local conglomerate TK Group, is the chemical's leading exporter.

There are a few more such companies, namely Tasnim Chemical Complex, SM Chemical Industries, HP Chemicals Limited, and Infinia Chemical Ltd, which produce and export the chemical. The raw material for producing the chemical is natural gas.

The government provides 10-percent subsidy for the shipment.

According to relevant sources, hydrogen peroxide, produced in about six factories in Bangladesh, is exported to 14 countries. The export destinations include Vietnam, China, Korea, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Malaysia, UAE, and South Africa.

"This chemical is called Asian cargo and mostly goes to different Asian economies, including neighbouring India and Pakistan," says Captain AS Chowdhury, country head of Sea Consortium, a Singapore-based feeder-service provider.

Mohammad Mustafa Haider, managing director of Samuda Chemical Company, told the FE that the news of lifting of restriction on the item is a sigh of relief for them. They have already met with the government agencies on how to overcome the crisis.

He claimed that they maintain international packaging standards called IMG code while they export the goods.

However, he says, some companies may have poor packaging.

According to Bangladesh Export Promotion Bureau, hydrogen-peroxide exports amounted to around $24 million annually.

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