India allows movement of commodities through trucks at Petrapole and Ghojadanga land border connecting the state of West Bengal with Bangladesh. Shipments of sponge iron and semi-finished steel were stuck at these land ports since the imposition of lockdown in India on March 24.

 

Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) had asked the central government to intervene and allow the movement of commodities between India and Bangladesh through the land ports. Around 60pc of the total bilateral trades between the two countries are conducted via land borders. Traders had requested the centre and state authorities to resume road movement.

 

After the suspension of road transport, many importers explored alternatives such as water transports. Trades continued through containers and river barges.

 

Bangladesh is a leading destination for export of pellet-based sponge iron from India. Around 90,000mt of sponge iron booked by medium-scale induction furnaces in Bangladesh was stuck at land port. Production at these furnaces had come to a halt due to disruption in raw material supplies.  

 

“It can take a few days before there is some sense of normalcy. After witnessing a shortage of raw and refractory materials, many Bangladeshi traders are expecting things to smoothen by July-end,” said an Indian trader.

 

Tentative prices for Indian sponge iron to Bangladesh are around $240/mt cfr Narayanganj or $250/mt cfr Chattogram, said traders. Imported ferrous scrap HMS 1&2 (80:20) trades at $260-270/mt cfr Chattogram while shredded scrap at $280-285/mt cfr Chattogram.  

Trades halted due to an impasse caused by West Bengal state government’s demand asking truck drivers entering from Bangladesh to undergo a 14-day quarantine while the central government had allowed the passage of commodities through land border ports. Trucks were stuck at Petrapole and Ghojadanga land ports in India, and Benapole and Bhomra ports in Bangladesh. 

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