Dhaka, Bangladesh
Export witnesses 20.27pc growth in FY18

Furniture industry growing rapidly

Export witnesses 20.27pc growth in FY18

Business Desk Bangladesh’s furniture export to foreign countries maintained a steady growth in fiscal year 2017-18 (FY18) as the country exported furniture products worth $6.31cr, up 20.27pc from the fiscal 2016-17 (FY17). The country exported furniture items worth $5.25 crore in FY17. The country targeted to export furniture products worth $6.10 crore in FY18, according to a data released by Export Promotion Bureau (EPB). “Our furniture products are becoming popular in different parts of the world, especially in middle eastern countries because of innovative design, quality wood and technical skills,” said president of Bangladesh Furniture Exporters’ Association (BFEA) K M Akhtaruzzaman. He said the furniture industry has been able to consolidate its position in the domestic market over the last ten years also. The manufacturers are producing quality products with innovative designs, he added. Akhtaruzzaman said Bangladesh has potential to be one of the world’s furniture exporting countries like Canada, China, Italy, Germany and Malaysia. He requested taking steps to reduce duty on the import of some raw materials for making the furniture products more competitive in the domestic and international markets. EPB director general Bijoy Bhattacharjee said steps have been taken in the 7th Five Year Plan to establish furniture products as permanent export products. Export of furniture products witnessed a rise over the last 10 years and export target was achieved every year, he added. This phenomenal rise in furniture exports is being attributed to the effective marketing drive by the country’s exporters in recent years. Though the value of furniture exports is rather nominal, but a beginning has been made, and with an aggressive marketing strategy, the value of exports can be increased further in a short span, said an official of the ministry involved. The total world trade in furniture is estimated at 130 billion US dollar, with the US being the leading importer while China is the major exporter. Bangladesh’s share in the total world market is quite negligible. “But the country can grab at least 10 per cent of the global demand for furniture if we can provide proper policy support,??? said Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) vice-chairman Shubhashish Bose recently. Industry sources said the soft furniture exporters in Bangladesh are experiencing steady growth in sales to Japan, the EU and the US. As China, the Philippines and Vietnam are shifting to more industrialized methods of production, it has created huge opportunities for Bangladesh. The labour cost, which is comparatively low, is an added advantage for Bangladesh. But the country has failed to reap the benefits as there is a dearth of educated, certified and professionally trained workers, the sources added. The shortage of manpower skilled in handling modern equipment and machinery is limiting the growth prospects of this industry, which should be addressed by setting up more technical schools with a curriculum of short-term trade courses, for which, along with government initiatives, the private sector should also come forward. Exporters are also suffering from multifarious problems while local manufacturers are facing challenges resulting from furniture imports. Imported foreign furniture, especially from China, Korea, Thailand and Malaysia, has hit the local industry and sales of locally manufactured household furniture have gone down. At the same time, the high cost of the furniture business threatens the sector as a whole. The prices of all raw materials used in making furniture, including chipboard, timber, foam, polish, chemicals, colour paints and hardware, have increased. Around 60 per cent of raw materials, including hardware, accessories and fabrics, are imported from countries such as Myanmar, Nigeria and Ivory Cost. One of the leading companies, HATIL, imports 100 per cent of its raw materials from North America. Despite its huge potential, Bangladesh faces a difficult challenge from other manufacturing countries as the industry was fully dependent on imported raw materials. HATIL’s Managing Director Selim H Raman demanded an affordable import tax on imported raw materials. The import tax on raw materials should be 15 per cent to ensure the further expansion of the furniture sector, Rahman said. He also demanded an easy and hassle-free duty drawback system. “Cash incentives on exports and low import duties on raw materials for the furniture sector would help bring in remarkable export earnings through diversification of products and markets. This would boost the country’s economy,” HATIL MD pointed out. “Furniture exports have already added a new dimension to our export basket, imparting a new thrust to furniture-making in the country for the global market,” he explained. “The country has a lot of potential and can increase furniture exports because it has cost competitiveness,” pointed out Rahman. China’s labour costs are gradually increasing, which has already created a vacuum in the furniture manufacturing sector. The country’s furniture exporters can easily fill this vacuum, asserted the HATIL managing director. (Inputs taken from BSS)

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