The government is considering imposing anti-dumping duty on import of powdered milk to protect the local industry and ensure fair price of nutrient-rich liquid food, officials concerned said.
Industry insiders said substandard and cheap powdered milk imported by a section of traders is being sold in the domestic market randomly which is harmful to human health.
Besides, they said, local milk producers and farmers have been losing their market due to import of powdered milk.
They urged the government to impose anti-dumping duty import of powdered milk to protect the local milk industry.
According to department of livestock services (DLS), importers bring in 65,000 tonnes of powdered milk annually. The value of imported powdered milk is approximately Tk 25 billion.
Presently, importers have to pay 25 per cent customs duty on import of powdered milk.
When contacted, assistant director (farm) of DLS Dr ABM Khaleduzzaman said the volume of the country's milk production is 9.4 million tonnes.
"The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended 250 ml milk consumption per person every day, but we can provide 158 ml milk per head a day."
According to WHO recommendations, he said, the country's demand for milk is 15 million tonnes. "We have a shortage of 5.6 million tonnes."
Now they want to raise the duty on import of powdered milk, the director also mentioned.
He, however, said some 8 kilograms of milk are made from one kg of powdered milk. The price of per kg milk is Tk 32/35.
For this, he said, liquid milk producers are losing customers. A good number of customers prefer buying powdered milk due to cheap price.
The official said the cooperative division on Monday last requested the commerce ministry to immediately take required steps to this end.
"We received a letter from the cooperative division recently. We are working on the issue," a commerce ministry desk official said.
The country's dairy farmers at a press conference on May 06 demanded imposition of 50 per cent duty on import of powdered milk from the next fiscal year to help protect the local industry.
They also sought imposition of anti-dumping duty on imported powdered milk to protect the industry from unfair competition.
When contacted on Friday, Bangladesh Dairy Farmers Association president Md Emran Hossain said the country's milk production increased to 9.4 million tonnes in last eight years from 2.9 million tonnes.
He said highly subsidised foreign powdered milk is making the competition uneven in the country. "So, the government should impose anti-dumping duty for the protection of the domestic industry according to the country's existing law. It (imported powdered milk) will damage the local industry."
He mentioned that a huge amount of date-expired bulk milk is being imported into the country.
The BDFA president said it will be possible for creating more employment in the country if the sector is fully sustainable.
"As we cannot produce baby milk in the country, so we have no objection to import of any baby milk," he added.
The number of dairy farms increased to 1.2 million from 0.2 million few years back, according to the National Dairy Development Forum (NDDF).
Milk Vita are now supplying 0.15 million litres of packet milk every day. Milk Vita is also producing powdered milk. Several privately-owned companies currently produce powdered milk in the country on a limited scale.
The industry insiders added that many of their products remain unsold as low-cost and low-grade imported powdered milk is flooding the market. Imported milk has vegetable fat (like palm oil fat) which might be harmful to both adults and children.
According to the BDFA, dairy farmers in the countries like New Zealand, Australia and Denmark get 65-70 per cent incentives against their production.
The highly incentivised produce has been creating uneven and unhealthy competition with local milk as we get no incentives, BDFA leaders said at the press conference.
They also said the government should consider imposing an anti-dumping duty on such products.
According to the Customs Acts, 1969, "Imposition of anti-dumping duty (1) where any goods are exported from any country or territory (hereinafter in this section referred to as the exporting country or territory) to Bangladesh at less than the normal value, then, upon the importation of such goods into Bangladesh, the government may, by notification in the official gazette, impose an anti-dumping duty not exceeding the margin of dumping in relation to such goods."
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