POST TIME: 14 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Jute exports show revival

Jute exports show revival

This file photo shows jute goods are displayed in a jute and jute goods expo in the capital. Independent Photo

Jute and jute goods rebounded in July-October 2019 compared to the same period last year, thanks to jute goods diversification, changes in government policy, availability of quality raw materials, and better crop management, say industry insiders.     

Global concerns about climate change have opened up new opportunities for the country, they added.

The jute and jute goods sector fetched export earnings of USD 314.49 million in July–October 2019, up from the USD 288.85 million recorded for the same period in the previous financial year. This signals a steady growth of 8.88 per cent, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).   

After readymade garments and leather products, jute and jute goods is the third sector to have crossed the USD 1 billion-mark in export receipts.

HM Rezaul Karim, vice-president of the Bangladesh Jute Goods Exporters' Association, told The Independent that the demand for jute products has been rising worldwide as more people are avoiding polythene use and moving towards eco-friendly products.

Karim, who is also the owner of BICO Jute Fibres, said that the demand for jute sacks has also been rising in African countries like Cameroon, Tanzania, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, and Sudan. These nations use jute sacks for food grain packaging.

He also said that Japan and South Korea use jute fibre in car interiors and electronic casings because jute is eco-friendly, biodegradable, and easy to recycle.   

When asked for export figures, Karim revealed that BICO Jute Fibres exported jute bags worth USD 20 million last year. “We exported 80 containers of jute products, with each container holding 16,000 jute sacks. So, our exports last year amounted to 12.8 lakh jute sacks,” he said.     

According to data from the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC), the country produced 9.2 million bales of jute in 2017, up from five million bales in 2016. The jute sector generates around 240 types of products.

The average production of jute goods is 663,000 units per year.

More than 40 million people are directly and indirectly involved in the sector.

Highlighting the challenges within the sector, Karim said that the BJMC fixes the export price of jute products, but private mills flout the rules and sell at lower rates.

At present, 22 government jute mills are fully operational. While local manufacturers enjoy a 7.5 per cent cash incentive from the government, there are no incentives for exporters.

Karim also mentioned the Mandatory Jute Packaging Act of 2010, which was enforced in 2014 to promote the country’s jute sector. It was ruled that 17 agricultural commodities like sugar, rice, maize, wheat, paddy, and fertiliser, must use jute packaging. However, only one commodity—rice—is currently transported using jute.

Sajjad Hussain Sohel, managing director of Erans Trade International Ltd, spoke with The Independent about the reasons for growth in the jute sector. He explained that Sudan and Turkey have produced an abundance of crops this year. These two nations, along with other African countries, have imported larger quantities of jute and jute goods from Bangladesh this year.