The Financial Express

Sri Lanka crisis may hit Bangladesh apparel shipments

Edgy exporters eye other routes

| Updated: May 11, 2022 15:38:14

Sri Lanka crisis may hit BD apparel shipments

Local exporters are worried over the latest political turmoil in Sri Lanka, as around 40 per cent of the country's apparel shipments use the port of Colombo as the key transshipment hub to reach the US and European ports.

Curfew is in force across Sri Lanka after mobs burned down homes belonging to the ruling Rajapaksa family members amid mounting anger following an acute economic crisis.

The overnight violence capped a day of unrest that saw PM Mahindra Rajapaksa quitting his job, but this failed to bring peace.

In the meantime, navigation of ships or process of monitoring and controlling the movement of vessels from one place to another remained suspended from the port.

Shipping executives told the FE that more than 10 feeder vessels either remained stuck or on the way to Colombo carrying export goods. After arrival of the Bangladesh-made cargoes at the port, they connect with mother vessels to reach the US and European ports. But the executives were tight-lipped to disclose in detail.

In the meantime, clothing exporters said they are closely watching the development and are in touch with buyers' forums and shipping circles.

"We have talked with the buyers' forums and shipping executives on Tuesday on how to avoid the Sri Lanka crisis that may affect the country's shipments," said Mr. Nazrul Islam, first vice president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told the FE.

Mr. Islam noted that they are also exploring using alternative routes to reach the North American ports via the Chinese ports or Singapore Port.

There are some direct shipping services to and from Chittagong - introduced a few months back - that may be used to avoid the Colombo Port, he added.

Earlier, the vessels operating between Chittagong and Colombo faced delays when the fuel crisis began in the island country a few months back.

At that time the time length of a voyage on the Chittagong-Colombo-Chittagong route increased to 10-11 days instead of the normal eight days.

Sri Lanka is now hit hard by large-scale fuel stockout. This is putting pressure on container lines, as loading and unloading activities depend on fuel supply with lorries.

The Sri Lankan economy has been under constant stress ever since the onset of the pandemic, as it crippled tourism - one of the highest earning sectors of the island.

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