Ports in Bangladesh, Vietnam and China to be connected by new shipping service

The Bay Bengal Express 2 Service (BBX2)—a new shipping service connecting the ports of Bangladesh, Vietnam and China—begins operations today,

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Photo: REUTERS/Darren Abate

The Bay Bengal Express 2 Service (BBX2)—a new shipping service connecting the ports of Bangladesh, Vietnam and China—begins operations today, expediting shipments of exports between the three countries and the US.

Launched by French shipping service CMA-CGM, the new route will use Vietnam as a pit stop as opposed to traditional routes through Singapore, significantly accelerating Bangladeshi exports to China and the US by a factor of ten days. Bangladeshi exports currently take approximately one month to arrive at US destinations.

Beijing and Dhaka’s effective COVID-19 management—as well as their rapid economic re-opening—will likely make them keen to capitalise on this express service and offer quick shipments before another economic downturn, thereby accelerating pandemic recovery efforts. Exports are comparatively time-sensitive as manufacturers desire a longer lead time, particularly within the prominent Bangladeshi apparel sector, which props up Western demand for fast fashion retail.

As China remains Bangladesh’s largest trade partner—with bilateral trade expected to reach $18 billion by 2021—this faster exchange of raw materials will boost lead time and amplify access for nascent Bangladeshi industries. Although Singapore remains a port of call, its strategic importance as a regional maritime hub may be eroded if new shipping routes continue to bypass its waters. Singapore is therefore likely to assert itself through dialogue and ASEAN avenues to reverse this trend.

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