Bangladesh's export-market diversification finds new dimensions with plastic products pivoting expansion of the trade, seen vital in the process of the country's development strides on a higher trajectory.
Industry sources say export earnings from the products' shipments are growing year on year.
The local industrialists exported plastic products worth US$48.14 million during the first quarter (Q1) of the current fiscal year (FY) 2022-23, marking a 56.55 per cent rise from the last FY2021, Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data showed.
In the same period (Jul-Sep) of the last FY2021, the country's total export earnings from the shipment of plastics amounted to $30.75 million, according to the EPB statistics.
An official at the commerce ministry said Friday the total plastic-product export at the end of the current FY2023 might cross $200 million.
"Although plastic products have a small share in the country's foreign-trade basket, but it has created a new hope for Bangladesh in export diversification after the single product-dependence on garments and textiles," he added.
Bangladesh's nearly 80-percent export earnings come from the apparel and textile product shipments annually.
The current size of the global plastic market is huge -- worth some $570 billion -- and is growing at an average annual rate of 20 per cent, manufacturers say.
The commerce ministry official said they had taken a target to make $200 million worth of shipments in the current FY2023.
An FE analysis has found that despite a drop in plastic-product exports in FY2020 amid the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the earnings from the export rebounded just in the following fiscal (FY2021) with a higher growth.
According to the EPB, Bangladesh made shipments worth $119.8 million in the FY2018, which fell to $100.5 million in the following FY2019.
The shipments rebounded to $115.28 million in the FY2020 and maintained the higher pace into the following FY2021 with an earning of $166.25 million, EPB statistics show.
The higher export pace was maintained in the last FY2022, too, when the country's plastic products accounted for shipments worth $166.25 million.
The FE analysis has found that plastic wastes in the plastic-product-export basket have shown a bright light with earnings expanding 83.74 per cent to $5.99 million during July-September period of the current FY2023 against $3.26 million in the same period of last FY2022.
Polyester in the primary form also maintained a good performance as the producers exported $11.82 million worth of products in the Q1 of the current fiscal year, the EPB data show.
PVC bags also performed better as its earnings from the shipments grew by 44.58 per cent to $7.33 million in the Q1.
In the same period last FY2022, the earnings from the PVC bags were $5.07 million.
India, Vietnam, Taiwan and China are the major importers of Bangladeshi plastic products, manufacturers say.
Shamim Ahemd, President of Bangladesh Plastic Good Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BPGMEA), told the FE that they were hoping to cross $200-million mark in export earnings at the end of the current fiscal.
"Although the global economic crisis amid the Russia-Ukraine war has affected our business, we are still hopeful about achieving the target," he adds.
Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Research Director Dr KG Moazzem said, "If we want to diversify the country's export basket, the plastic products could be a good option as its year-on-year earnings from the shipment are growing."
The government should encourage more local and foreign investments for the expansion of world-class production as well as export, he told the FE.
Dr Moazzem also laid emphasis on the setting up of a special economic zone for the plastic-product manufacturers.