• Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019
  • Last Update : 02:09 am

Experts seek policy support to transform furniture sector into billion-dollar export industry

  • Published at 01:13 am January 17th, 2019
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All major furniture retailers are offering major discounts at the trade fair, but not getting the expected response MEHEDI HASAN

In his speech, Razzaque, said that the furniture exports of Bangladesh occupies only 0.026% [$63 million] of the global market [$240 billion]. US, Japan, Spain, and China are the main markets for Bangladeshi furniture products

Experts and stakeholders  at a roundtable event titled "Unleashing the Export Potential of Bangladesh’s Furniture Industry: An Analysis of Prospects and Policy Support” called for policy support from the government to transform the country's furniture sector into a billion-dollar export industry.

Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) organized the event on Wednesday at the conference room of their office in Gulshan, Dhaka.

Dr MA Razzaque, project team leader of Trade and Investment of BEI delivered the keynote presentation.

In his speech, Razzaque, said that the furniture exports of Bangladesh occupies only 0.026% [$63 million] of the global market [$240 billion]. US, Japan, Spain, and China are the main markets for Bangladeshi furniture products.

Sleeping bags under the broad category of furniture products being the most exported product from Bangladesh because of a natural comparative advantage linked with the country’s  RMG [ready-made garment] industry, he added.

"As it [furniture] is a labour-intensive industry, it shows huge prospects for export. However, the sector is constrained by weak backward linkages, high procurement costs of raw materials, difficulties faced in accessing finance, shortage of skilled labour, excessive cost of doing business, and lack of trade promotional activities," added Razzaque, also research director at the Policy Research Institute (PRI). 

Discussants at the event highlighted strengthening export policies to address gaps in different areas and to help exporters overcome adverse consequences arising from the high cost of doing business in Bangladesh.

Furthermore, they emphasized allowing bonded warehouse facilities for exporters in order to reduce import duties and taxes on imports, along with the time between receiving export orders and shipping goods to destination countries. 

"Introducing export incentives and expansion of access to finance with the help of Export Development Fund [EDF] and Export Credit Guarantee Scheme [ECGS] will also help the industry," said MA Razzaque.

He called for providing vocational training to workers and setting up an independent training institute. 

"Private universities should offer diplomas and training on the subject," suggested Farooq Sobhan,  former ambassador, and distinguished fellow and member of Board of Governors of BEI. 

Farooq, said that the institute is planning to propose these policies to the government through successive discussions with the National Board of Revenue (NBR) and Salman F Rahman, Private Industry and Investment adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.