Exports of paper products see robust growth

Collected photo used for representational purpose only Collected photo used for representational purpose only

The country's export earnings from paper and paper products manufacturing sector made a hefty growth in July-January period of the current fiscal year indicating recovery of the sector from pandemic fallout.

The sector brought in $53.3 million in the FY's first seven months, which is 34.56 per cent higher than the corresponding period, according to data available with the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).

The export performance for the last seven month is also 24.88 per cent higher than the EPB's strategic target of $42.68 million, the data revealed.

According to sector insiders, Bangladesh usually exports large amounts of paper products like different types of tissues and liner media or packaging materials which contributed to the growth.

Talking to the FE, a paper mill owner Abdul Jabbar Khan said the sector has almost got back to its usual track following sluggishness in both local and international demand.

"The growth of export earnings is a sign of turnaround for the sector that is growing fast on the back of lower labour cost and transfer of factories from other countries to Bangladesh," said Mr Khan, managing director of Asia Paper Mills Limited.

He also expected that the export earnings will grow further in the coming days as local millers are expanding their capacity and global footprint.

The analysis of export data also revealed that the sector's export earnings slipped to $77.97 million in the FY 2019-20 -- when the pandemic broke out -- from $81.73 million in the corresponding period.

The figures were $ 56.87 million in FY 2016-17 and $75.76 million in FY 2017-18.

Sources said, local paper manufacturers enjoy 10-per cent cash incentives.

Bangladesh now exports paper and paper products to over 50 countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, India, Nepal, and Bhutan.

According to data available with the Bangladesh Paper Mills Association (BPMA), out of 105 registered with the government there are around 70 private paper mills operating in the country at present.

However, some of those in operation are increasing their capacity with a new variety of paper products to cater modern-day needs at home and abroad.

The country's paper-market size is estimated at around Tk 50 billion, registering an annualised growth of over 5.0 per cent in the recent years.

The paper mills have so far invested Tk 700 billion in the country for the sector having capacity of producing 1.5 million tonnes annually though the local known demand for paper products is around 0.6 million (six lakh) tonnes.

However, nearly 0.3 million tonnes of different types of paper are also imported in addition to production by local manufacturers.

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