Manufacturers fear additional security measures will hurt exports bound for Europe

Manufacturers fear additional security measures will hurt exports bound for Europe

Air freight from Bangladesh into the European Union is having to undergo additional screening for explosives, under new rules that could increase costs and delays for exporters.

The changes came into effect from 1 June after the EU put Bangladesh on its 'Red' list of high-risk countries in terms of operating cargo services to EU countries.

The move means aircraft carrying cargo directly from Bangladesh into the EU have to go through additional screening measures on top of the already applied EU ACC3 (Third Country Airport) control regime.

The screening – which includes an X-ray with a dual-view monitor followed by an Explosive Detection Dog (EDD) or Explosive Detection System (EDS) ­– can be performed either at the point of origin – Bangladesh – or in a third, transit, country prior to entry into the EU. The implementation of the measures is the responsibility of the airlines.

While local media reports say the first bomb detection dogs have started to be used to screen cargo at the main Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, some carriers are adding that the moves have produced a huge backlog at the airport and that airlines have reduced the space available to take freight from Dhaka to the EU.

The US State Department has issued two warnings this year of Islamic State (IS) terrorists targeting clothing buyers in Bangladesh, after an attack last July killed more than 20 Westerners in a restaurant in Dhaka, many of whom were working in the garment sector. 

Last year Australia, the UK and Germany all said they would restrict direct air cargo imports from Bangladesh, also imposing rules that require air cargo to be re-screened at a third country amid fears of poor security procedures in Dhaka. Following the UK ban on direct air cargo from the country, Bangladesh took several steps to upgrade security screening procedures and equipment at Dhaka International Airport

Within Europe, Germany and the UK are the biggest export destinations for Bangladesh-made garments. 

Bangladesh is the second-largest clothing supplier to the EU after China, with exports reaching EUR14.9bn last year. In turn, the EU accounts for around half of Bangladesh's ready-made garment exports.The moves have been criticised by manufacturers and exporters in Bangladesh, who say they will hurt exports and add further delay to shipments bound for Europe.

Airfreight delays are serious in a country whose main port, Chittagong, is severely congested and has poor road links with the Dhaka area. Last year the World Bank gave Bangladesh's logistics infrastructure a much-needed boost with a US$360m loan to overhaul the country's rivers, ports and canals.