Different types of furniture put on display at a showroom in the capital’s Panthopath. Independent file photo
The export earnings from the country’s furniture industry witnessed a growth of 18.53 per cent in the last fiscal year (FY19) thanks to innovative design and quality, rising local investments, exploration of new markets, affordable labour force and modern technologies. Accoring to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data, this figure is also 7 per cent higher than the fiscal target of USD 70 million.
The country bagged USD 74.89 million, up from USD 63.18 million from furniture exports in FY18. Industry insiders say Bangladeshi furniture is gradually becoming popular among foreign buyers due to its quality and designs. The furniture industry has moved much ahead in the last one decade due to modern designs and innovations.
Selim H Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Furniture Industries Owners’ Association (BFIOA) and also owner of Hatil Complex, told The Independent that Bangladesh has started penetrating and exporting their products to new markets, such as India, which is eventually helping the increase in export earnings.
Moreover, Hatil Comnplex has brought automatic machinery and invested over Tk. 200 crore to renovate its factory in savar.
The machinery includes automated robotic systems to increase its manufacturing efficiency and enrich the company's global popularity. They will help double the production rather than increasing job cuts, said Rahman.
Hatil Complex has been exporting furniture to different places of India for the past two years. “We're currently exporting our products to West Bengal and Punjab in India. From May, we're going to open showrooms in Kashmir, Patna and Srinagar of India among other places,” said Rahman.
Citing the advantage of short distance, the BFIOA president said it is convenient for Bangladesh to export products to India. "Another reason for India importing products from us is that it doesn’t have to pay import duty. It has to pay 10 per cent duty if they import products from China,” he added.
Bangladesh also exports furniture to Middle East countries, Canada, Nepal, Bhutan, Malaysia, the US, Belgium and other European countries.
Rahman explained that China used to be the highest furniture-sourcing country in the world.
“Now, China has shifted from labour-intensive to high-tech industries because the labour cost has gone up in that country. This has opened up opportunities for Bangladesh in this sector,” he noted.
Also, more and more brands are investing in the sector to avail the 15 per cent cash rebate declared by the government on the export of furniture. “So, it’s high time for us to invest more in this sector,” he said.
The BFIOA president also said around 15–20 full-fledged furniture factories are coming up every year. Hatil Furniture exports products worth around USD 150,000 to Bhutan, the Middle East, Canada, and Nepal every month, he added.
Rahman said the domestic furniture market has shown an annual growth rate of 20-25 per cent. “The local furniture industry is growing fast because of the rising purchasing capacity of consumers. Researchers are trying to understand their needs, demand, and affordability,” he added.
New designs, modern
technology and innovative products have jacked up
the demand for furniture
in the local market, he observed.
Asked about the local market size, Rahman replied that though there is no statistical data, it would be approximately Tk 4–4.5 thousand crore.
Describing the challenges faced by furniture exporters, Rahman said: “Raw materials are still being imported. We pay around 55–60 per cent import duty on these materials. This hikes the production cost and consequently the final product prices are increased.”