A government shipping office has issued a directive for the protection of the Bangladesh-flagged vessels, much to the frustration of foreign shipping liners.
Transportation of goods to and from Bangladesh is usually carried by foreign shipping firms.
According to foreign carriers, such type of protection is tantamount to monopoly.
Last February, two container vessels were registered with the Mercantile Marine Office under shipping department in Bangladesh.
The office issued a letter on July 07 requesting the Chattogram Port Authority (CPA) to protect the two Bangladesh-flagged vessels as per the Flag Protection Act-2019.
The two vessels-Sahare and Sarera-were registered in compliance with the existing law concerned.
According to the office, the vessels should be given priority berthing at Chattogram port and 50-per cent business of the total containerised cargoes.
Before registration of the two vessels, there was no Bangladesh-flagged vessel in terms of container ship.
People working at the foreign shipping companies told the FE that this letter is against the spirit of free-market economy.
"Are we going back?" said an official working at a foreign shipping office in Dhaka on Monday.
On the other hand, the Mercantile Marine Office said they have requested the CPA in line with the Act.
"This may encourage other local entrepreneurs to invest in shipping business," said Capt Geash Uddin Ahmed, principal officer at the shipping office.
The Bangladesh-flagged vessels usually recruit local people on the ships and create employment opportunity for local people, he told the FE over phone on Monday.
However, the foreign shipping companies do their business in Bangladesh in partnership with local enterprises.
More than 60 container vessels are now plying to and from the port city.
Foreign container vessels carried more than 3.0 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in the just-concluded fiscal year.
However, the two Bangladesh-registered vessels have 16,773 dead weight tonnes and 1,550-TEU capacity each.