DHAKA, April 27, 2017— Bangladesh and its South Asian neighbors can make their container ports more efficient by boosting private sector participation, improving governance and encouraging competition in order to grab a bigger share of international trade and create more jobs, says a new World Bank report.
While noting that Bangladesh and South Asia have had impressive economic growth in the last two decades, the new report Competitiveness of South Asia’s Container Ports shows that inefficiencies in the region’s ports threaten to hinder progress and stop it from matching other regions like East Asia.
The report found that if ports in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan had been as efficient as those of Sri Lanka it could have cut shipping costs by up to nearly 9 percent, boosting the value of the region’s exports by up to 7 percent.
“As China is shifting out of labor-intensive sectors such as apparel, Bangladesh has the potential to capture a growing share of the global market. And improving the performance of Bangladesh’s container ports is a key step toward increasing trade and creating new jobs for the country’s growing labor force,” said Qimiao Fan, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.
While container ports in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka have attained relatively higher levels of operational and economic performance through reforms and private investment, Bangladesh remains the only country on the Indian subcontinent where the private sector does not play a meaningful role in the container port sector.
Case in point: In Chittagong, which handles over 90 percent of Bangladesh’s container traffic, the lack of investments and the growth in exports of ready-made garments in Bangladesh have forced the port to operate almost at capacity and caused very high turnaround and waiting times.
The report urges Bangladesh and its South Asian neighbors to build greater private sector participation, improve governance of port authorities and create more competition within and between ports to strengthen their economies.
“Experience from across the globe, including the South Asian experience, indicates that a three-pronged approach that encourages better governance, private investment, and competition in container ports will lead to more economic opportunities and jobs,” said Karla Gonzalez Carvajal, South Asia Manager, Transport and ICT Global Practice at the World Bank.
For more information, please visit: https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/bangladesh
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