Furniture-industry leaders have demanded duty exemption and export-friendly government policy, in order to support the local furniture industry and boost its export.
They made the demand at the inauguration of the 17th National Furniture Fair, organised by the Bangladesh Furniture Industry Owners Association at the city's International Convention City Bashundhara on Thursday.
Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce & Industries (FBCCI) President Md Jasim Uddin was present as the chief guest at the opening ceremony of the fair, with Salim H Rahman, chairman of Bangladesh Furniture Industry Owners Association, in the chair.
President of Bangladesh Furniture Exporters Association and Director of FBCCI K M Aktaruzzaman was present as a special guest.
Addressing the event, the FBCCI president expressed concerns over the country's total goods export.
Bangladesh exports US$ 52 billion worth of goods - the figure stands like this riding on a 40 per cent hike in prices of imported raw materials, he said. "The government is receiving tax due to the increasing raw material import and thus thinks that it makes good exports."
"We who do business in the country know the hardship we are facing," he lamented.
FBCCI president urged the furniture company owners to join global furniture fairs abroad and go for joint production with globally-recognised companies for global branding and promotion of the local companies.
He suggested concentrating on product development and skills upgradation as the country graduates from the Least Developed Country (LDC) status soon.
Once the status is gone, facilities like restriction on global product import and WTO royalty license exemption will no longer be available, he added.
The FBCCI president said he would forward the owners' demands to the government in order to ensure an export-friendly policy for the sector. Speaking on the occasion, FBCCI Director K M Aktaruzzaman said that they managed a 15 per cent cash incentive after frantic efforts but they needed bonded warehouse facility, tax and vat exemption to expand the industry further and export more goods.
"We have to import huge quantities of backward linkage items and hardware to produce final goods. If we are allowed to get such duty exemption, it will cut the production costs and thus goods prices in the local market, apart from ensuring a healthy export environment," he added.
Though the Covid pandemic left an impact on the economy, the sector made a 40 per cent growth, he added.
Bangladesh is now importing furniture to meet 5 per cent of its total demand - this was 70 per cent some decades ago.
The biggest event of the domestic furniture industry will continue till October 10. There are a total of 182 stalls of 34 institutions in the fair.
There are some 3 million people involved in the furniture industry in the country and the local market size is approximately Tk 300-400 billion while there is a $700 billion global market.
Bangladesh currently exports furniture to India, Nepal, USA, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and the countries in the European Union.