Bangladesh wants direct shipping line to UAE, says foreign minister

Traffic between the countries currently takes about 40 days, but this could be cut to 14

AK Abdul Momen, Bangladesh's Foreign Minister, is on a four-day official visit to the UAE. Photo: Wam
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Bangladesh is seeking to establish a direct shipping line to the UAE to reduce navigation times and boost trade, a top Bangladeshi official has said.

AK Abdul Momen, Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, told state news agency Wam on Sunday that ship traffic was currently routed through ports in Singapore and Sri Lanka, which takes around 40 to 42 days.

A direct shipping line would help reduce it by two thirds to around 14 days, resulting in a leap in trade as the country increases exports of rice and vegetables.

Bilateral trade between two countries in 2021 stood at $1.8 billion, he said. A direct shipping line would help multiply it several times, he said. Exports from the UAE to Bangladesh were to the tune of $1.3bn, while imports were $500 million.

Mr Momen, who concluded a four-day visit to the Emirates on Sunday, said the country was also exploring having the UAE operate its seaports.

“The UAE is very good in the management of ports,” said Mr Momen. “We have plenty of ports and a long coastline. The UAE can share their expertise and experience with us. We are working on that.

“Talks are going on in this regard between both countries.”

Relations between the UAE and Bangladesh are warm and historic. About 700,000 Bangladeshis live in the UAE and they represent the third largest resident community after Indians and Pakistanis.

“I am here to tell them that we value their contribution,” he said.

Mr Momen also said the prime minister was due to visit the UAE next month.

Updated: February 13, 2022, 2:57 PM