Narinjara news


Bangladesh, Myanmar feeder shipping service in the offing


Dhaka, 7th January 02: A feeder shipping service between Bangladesh and neighbouring Burma is in the offing to boost bilateral trade, official sources said Monday, according to today’s the independent quoted AFP, Chittagong.


The sources in Chittagong Port and Mercantile Marine Department said the government had already asked a private shipping company to start operating its feeder container vessels on the Chittagong-Rangoon route as soon as possible to increase bilateral trade.


"A high-level meeting to this effect was held recently on this issue and if the service starts on this route, the trade gap between the two countries will come down to a great extent," one port official said.


Imports from Burma include timber, maize, rice and fish, while exports include fertiliser, cement and medicines, but there are no official estimates bilateral trade, which is said to be very small. Smuggling also takes place across the border.


The official said the step was a follow up to the landmark visit by Burma Senior General Than Shwe in December when the countries pledged to boost bilateral ties to overcome economic challenges facing them both. "The Burma government has also agreed to place a container vessel on the route," he said.


Shipping sources said due to a lack of vessels, the state-owned Bangladesh Shipping Corporation was unable to provide the service immediately, so the government opted for the private HRC Shipping Lines, which is already operating feeder vessels between Chittagong and Sri Lanka as well as Malaysia.


Than Shwe was the first leader of Burma's junta to visit Bangladesh. The last leader to come was the then Burmese President U San Yu in 1986.


Burma was among the first countries to recognise Bangladesh after it won independence from Pakistan in 1971. But relations were strained in the early 1990s when around 250,000 Rohingya Muslims flooded into Bangladesh from Burma, claiming atrocities by the junta.


Ties have improved since then, with the repatriation of most of the refugees under a United Nations agreement, but more than 20,000 still live in camps in Bangladesh.#