© Iago Lopez

As the construction of Patenga Container Terminal nears completion, to start handling cargo in July, AP Møller-Maersk appears to have engaged top apparel retailer Inditex to request the Bangladesh government to award the operating contract to Maersk.

Garment producers are the main users of Bangladesh’s ports and logistics sector and apparel its main foreign currency-earner of Bangladesh, more than $30bn, making it the second-largest garment exporter worldwide.

Inditex annually imports more than $1.3bn-worth of garment-related products from Bangladesh, making it very influential in the country. It recently wrote to the government officials in charge of awarding the Patenga Terminal operation, urging them to contract Maersk.

The Spanish clothing retailer said it was “very exposed to and dependent on the maritime infrastructure of Bangladesh”, which impacts the efficiency of its entire export supply chain. It added that its exports could become less competitive if some of the issues “we face today are left unresolved”.

Inditex wrote that as new infrastructure projects in Bangladesh became operational, it was the right time to prepare for the future by considering environmental, social and governance aspects when commencing operations at the new terminals.

“In this context, we would like to direct your attention to the proposal submitted to the government of Bangladesh by the Maersk group for operating the Patenga Container Terminal,” wrote Javier Santonja Olcina, regional head Bangladesh, Inditex.

He said Inditex had global experience of working with Maersk and considered the firm “the ideal operator for this new terminal, not only because of their extensive experience of operating world-class container terminals but also because of their focus on safety and sustainability while providing complete supply chain solutions”.

The annual 0.5m teu capacity and 600-metre long container terminal is being constructed at a cost of $240m on 32 acres. It will be able to accommodate vessels up to 10.5 metres with carrying capacity of 4,500 teu, three  of 190-metre length at a time, and a 220-metre oil tanker.

Saudi Arabia-based Red Sea Gateway Terminal and Dubai’s DP World are other foreign contenders for the terminal, alongside local private sector port operators.

A spokesperson for Maersk told The Loadstar: “A lot of our top customers have sustainability at the top of their agenda. We are striving hard to ensure we support our customers in achieving their goals of reducing their carbon footprints in supply chains.”

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