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Coronavirus effect: Prices of Chinese products go up in Khulna

  • Published at 11:39 pm February 23rd, 2020
Photo: Reuters

These goods include Chinese clothing, electronic items and hardware accessories

The outbreak of coronavirus has severely affected import and export between Bangladesh and China since January 26.

As a result, China has halted imports of crabs eels, and raw jute from Khulna.

On the other hand, no new letters of credit (LCs) are being issued on raw materials imported from China, owing to which prices of goods reliant on Chinese materials have gone up.

These goods include Chinese clothing, electronic items and hardware accessories. 

The prices of goods dependent on these materials have gone up by at least 10%, according to traders in Khulna.

SM Yasin Ali, electronics importer and owner of Khulna Parts House, said all factories had been closed for production in China. The products that were expected to be shipped remain stalled over there. 

"Due to the shortage of goods, the prices of spare parts, including TV-computer parts, remote control and other items in Khulna market have risen by 10-20%. Prices of other hardware products, including door locks, padlocks and other items, have also risen," he added.

Other traders said at least 70% of raw materials of all export goods come from China. As the import of those raw materials have stalled, they fear incurring huge losses.

Siddiqur Rahman Bulu, vice president of Khulna Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said although there was no formal announcement of stopping import-export with China, it had effectively reached a stalemate.

"LCs against raw materials meant to be imported two months ago have still not been cleared. This will cause an artificial crisis of existing products in the market," he worried.

The last Chinese ship that reached Mongla Port was MV Lee Airbuck on January 30.

Some imports of electronics and hardware raw materials from China entered through some containers, but those were rather limited.

Belal Hossain, manager of Super Jute at Fultala, said export of raw jute to China has been halted. The last shipment was a long time ago, worth $28,000, but the firm could not recover its bill due to lack of communication caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Uttam Kumar Sarker, a crab trader at Paikgachha, said China had also stopped importing crabs from traders like him. 

This has put their livelihoods in jeopardy, he lamented.

"Halting export would not have been a problem if previous dues were realized. But halting export and not paying previous dues puts the industry at grave risk," said Biddyut Kumar Ghosh, general secretary of Paikgachha Crab Traders Cooperative Association.

Md Abu Sayeed at the Fisheries Office in Khulna said crab farming in the district spanned 28,546 hectares in the 2018-19 fiscal year, out of which 6,989 tons were produced.

This fiscal year the target is to produce over 7,000 tons, he added.