After the Russia-Ukraine war started in February, many people thought that Bangladesh’s exports to Russia would stop. The transcontinental country, Russia was hit with a lot of sanctions and embargoes that made it hard for it to import goods. But now that alternative shipping routes and payment systems have been set up, shipments to Russia are almost back to full speed.
In recent years, Bangladesh has become a good export market for Russia, but the war temporarily stopped shipments, especially clothing. However, Bangladesh exported $33.52 million worth of goods to Russia during the first two months of this fiscal year, followed by $638.30 million in fiscal 2021-22. Despite a slowed growth rate, trade is back on track.
In the pre-war period, local exporters would send goods from Chattogram port to Finland. The goods would then be shipped to Saint Petersburg, Russia, where importers would receive them. But, because of the war, routes have changed and many new routes have opened up likeTurkey, South Korea, Germany, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Poland. Moreover, some exporters even send goods directly to Russia without any problems. This way, exporters also not having any trouble because the payment is coming from the third country in USD or RMB.
Furthermore, only six Russian banks have been approved by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication(SWIFT) to pay exporters directly.
Shahidul Islam, managing director of a local company that exports sweaters and knitwear, said that he has been sending goods to Russia through other routes. “I’m getting money from a third country,” he said, adding that Russian buyers had paid him more than $0.7 million since the start of the war. Islam further went on to say that a Russian importer has agreed to pay him in Chinese currency.
Mohammad Hatem, executive president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said that he is sending goods to Russia through different channels and that he is not facing any major problems because business is almost normal.
Like Hatem and Shahidul, many other exporters are also sending goods to Russia through different routes. Hatem also said that things are much better now because ships can bring goods into the country without any problems.
The secretary of the Bangladesh Inland Container Depots Association, Md. Ruhul Amin Sikder, said that during the first few days of the war, a lot of shipments were stuck at Chattogram port because shipping lines didn’t want to take goods to Russia.
But there aren’t any complaints like that right now because shipping lines have started taking different routes to get goods to Russia.
However, Rajiv Chowdhury, the managing director of Young 4 Ever Textile in Fatullah, said he will not send any goods to Russia until he sees how things go. Now that things are normal, Chowdhury hopes to send items to Russia again.