Monthly Archives: November 2008

Local firms to win global edge

Local firms to win global edge
Hopes pharmaceuticals consultant Rob Walker
Jasim Uddin Khan

Bangladesh has ample scope for its pharmaceutical companies to become the most competitive players in global market in the days to come due to the availability of cheap labour and utility services, said an internationally acclaimed consultant.

“The labour cost and other expenses at major medicines supplying nations like India and China are growing rapidly, which has created openings for Bangladeshi companies to compete in the world market,” Rob Walker told The Daily Star in an exclusive interview recently.

Walker now works on graduating a local pharmaceutical plant, Acme Pharmaceuticals, to MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) standard of the United Kingdom (UK).

An MHRA certificate allows any Bangladeshi company to produce and market any registered drug of UK and other European countries.

Having a vast experience in such a consultancy for Indian, Chinese and South African pharmaceutical factories, he had earlier worked for Eskayef and Renata.

Walker successfully helped the two Bangladeshi firms reach MHRA standards within the shortest possible time.

Eskayef has gained this achievement for tablets and capsules, while Renata tablets with hormonal preparations gained UK recognition.

The country has enhanced its capacity to manufacture quality and low-cost pharmaceuticals, Walker said, pointing to the fact that the prices of medicines made in India and China marked a rise after those countries entered the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

“So, Bangladesh is in a favourable condition because of its low-cost high-qualified manpower and LDC (least developed country) status,” he added.

Asked whether all the large pharmaceutical factories should develop their plants in line with ‘good manufacturing practice (GMP)’, Walker said it depends on business decisions of the factories concerned.

“If a company has the strength to browse international market for export and if it wants to enter developed market, it should invest for MHRA accreditation,” he said.

He said many local pharmaceutical companies have already started marketing their products to European and other developed markets.

These companies have been inspired by low labour and power costs, depreciation of US dollar against most currencies and comparative advantages for Bangladesh under the WTO’s agreement on trade-related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

Walker suggested that the companies expanding their existing plants, and those who need to overhaul their older facilities could make investments for building their capabilities to get the MHRA approval.

“It will increase the product acceptability both locally internationally and the company can easily explore international market if it has the accreditation,” he said.

Although evaluation for the MHRA accreditation is a complex process, which includes thorough inspection of any company’s quality system, machinery and equipment, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) system, purified water system and effluent treatment system.

This process ultimately enables a company to improve its suitability with the changing GMP demands of the market.

Walker also pointed out that many UK firms suspended production of some of their generic drugs on the plea that manufacture of those products would not be viable on the big companies’ part because of a little demand due to a high cost.

This situation might be considered as an advantage by the local pharmaceuticals, he added.

Besides, the UK and European government policies are now encouraging people to buy low cost medicines. This policy changes may also be helpful for the UK and EU firms to procure pharmaceutical products in Bangladesh, Walker said.


B’desh third largest knitwear exporter to EU

B’desh third largest knitwear exporter to EU

FE Report

Bangladesh has emerged as the third largest exporter of knitwear garments to European Union in last fiscal year after China and Turkey, chief of the country’s knitwear manufacturers’ association said.

President of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) Fazlul Hoque told the FE that the sector was gaining momentum due to skilled workforce and strong backward linkages.

Of Bangladesh’s total knitwear export worth around $5.532 billion in the last fiscal year to over 90 nations of the world, he said: “The country fetched around $3.50 billion from export of knit items including t-shirts, sweatshirts, trousers and tops to European Union (EU) countries.”

“We are giving relentless effort to consolidate our position which we managed to achieve in the last fiscal year as Indonesia and Hong Kong lost their grounds in export of knitwear to EU,” said the BKMEA president, an association of around 1500 knit manufacturers of the country.

Some BKMEA insiders said Bangladesh’s knitwear garments industry now requires to compete with countries like Turkey, India and Pakistan, not China which has shifted its focus on manufacturing high-end products.

Bangladesh has the potential to take the number one position in the near future if it avails it self of the advantage by employing high tech machinery, sector insiders said.

They added the country’s knitwear industry, which accounted for more than 37.3 percent of Bangladesh’s total exports of US$14.11 billion by exporting 199.54 million dozens of knit items in the last fiscal year, will continue to grow despite the fear of financial woes in the developed economies.

About the effects of world’s financial woes, an exporter said: “knitwear export performed more than expectation in the first quarter. We are expecting that the growth will continue in the rest of the period unless the financial slowdown in EU region prolongs.”

In the first quarter, spanning from July to September, of the current fiscal 2008-09 year, Bangladesh knitwear exporters fetched $1.831 billion, registering 52.05 percent growth over that of the corresponding period last year.

Chhatak Cement Factory ready for exporting cement to Assam

Chhatak Cement Factory ready for exporting cement to Assam

SYLHET, Nov 28 (BSS): The production of Chhatak Cement Company has been increased as the factory is producing quality cement.

The company is not only fulfilling the local demands but also going to export cement to Indian state of Assam soon.

‘Sylhet Mart’, a local business firm will export cement produced in Chhatak Cement Factory.

Official sources said that the factory is producing quality cement using modern equipment and following special process.

The production target of the factory this year has been fixed at 150,000 metric tonnes as demand for cement increased both at home and abroad, they said.

They further said, “We will have to ensure the quality of our product to face the challenges in the competitive market.”

The Chhatak Cement Company Limited, an enterprise of the Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC), was established on 254.87 acres in 1937 in Chhatak Upazila.

The factory is also producing sulphate resistant cement for using in constructing underground structure as well as in the seashore.

The annual capacity of the factory has increased to 233,000 metric tonnes after BMRI from 135,000 metric tonnes in 2000 year. It has produced 187,000 metric tonnes in 2003-04, the highest production in the factory.

Factory sources said the full capacity of the factory could not have been utilised due to lack of skilled workforce and other facilities.

The company entered into a 20-year agreement with an Indian company to supply limestone to Chhatak Cement Factory.

Mosque-based education achieves success in Natore

Mosque-based education achieves success in Natore
Our Correspondent . Natore

The mosque-based children and mass education project in Natore has brought a great success in the country’s education sector.

The Islamic Foundation is implementing the project introduced by the religious affairs ministry in 1992.

KM Munirul Islam, deputy director of the Islamic Foundation, Natore, informed that at present 14 ,475 children and adults were being given education on Bangla, English and maths at 455 centres in six upazilas of the district.

They are also receiving religious education under the project. All sorts of teaching material are supplied to the learners free of cost.

After receiving this year-long education, the children can become fit to receive education at the government and non-government primary schools.

After completion of the 3rd phase in 2005, the 4th phase (2006-2008) of the project is now under implementation with a target of educating 29,37,600 children and adults by the year 2015 across the country.

Up to the 3rd phase, (1992-2005), a total of 74,325 people were taught, of which 53 965 children were given pre-primary education, 1,775 adults general education while 18,585 people were taught the holy Quran in the district.

All of the learners were family members of poor farmers, labourers, porters, fishermen who were underprivileged. Three hundred and thirty-five trained imams work as teachers in the project. Each of them is given additional Tk 1,200 per month as honorarium for teaching.

These imams are also playing an important role in awareness building about dowry, violence against women, child marriage, human trafficking, smocking, HIV/AIDS, immunisation, tree plantation and other socio-economic issues.

Six model resource centres and additional 13 general resource centres have been set up in six upazilas of the district so that the learners of the project can put their knowledge into practice.

To ensure smooth operation of the project, a district level monitoring committee headed by the deputy commission and a upazila level monitoring committee headed by the upazila nirbahi officer have been formed.

Moreover, the education project is under supervision of the field officers, supervisors, master trainers and the caretakers of the model and general resource centres.

The local elites think that it will be possible to build an ‘illiteracy free’ Bangladesh by the year 2015 if this type of education system continues.

Industrial credit disbursement rises by 30pc in Q1 of FY ’09

Industrial credit disbursement rises by 30pc in Q1 of FY ’09

Siddique Islam

Industrial credit disbursement recorded a significant rise by over 30 per cent in the first quarter (Q1) of the current fiscal compared to the corresponding period of the last fiscal.

“The upward trend of the industrial term loan disbursement will continue in the next quarters to meet the growing demand of the businessmen and entrepreneurs,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE Thursday.

The disbursement of industrial term loans stood at Tk 49.50 billion during the July-September of the fiscal 2008-09 (FY09). A total of Tk 37.84 billion was disbursed during the corresponding period of last fiscal, according to the central bank statistics.

This includes fresh credit, rescheduling of term loans and fund release for balancing, modernisation, rehabilitation and expansion (BMRE) of industrial units, the BB official said while explaining the reasons for the hefty growth of industrial credit flow.

“Import of capital machinery and industrial raw materials increased during the period against the corresponding period of the last fiscal following the higher disbursement of industrial term loans,” the central bank official noted.

Industrial raw materials import increased by 40.36 per cent to $2.474 billion during Q1 of the FY09. The amount is up at least $711.58 million from that of the corresponding period of the last fiscal, the BB’s data showed.

The BB said import of capital machinery — industrial equipment used for production — rose by 15.50 per cent to $423.74 million, reflecting a rising confidence among entrepreneurs in the country’s future industrial prospects.

Commercial bank officials, however, expect the uptrend in disbursement of industrial term loans to continue in the near future in different sectors, including power and telecommunications.

“We see the increased demand for term loans, particularly in power sector, will continue in the near future to meet the growing demand for electricity across the country,” a senior official of a private commercial bank (PCB) told the FE.

He also said the energy and power, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and textile sectors have received the lion’s share of such loans.

The major shares of loans were disbursed through syndications among the commercial banks and non-banking financial institutions during the period, the PCB official added.

The recovery of term loans increased by more than 47 per cent during the period under review as the banks and non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs) intensified their recovery drive in line with the central bank directives, the BB officials said.

During the period, the industrial credit recovery stood at Tk 38.78 billion compared to Tk 26.25 billion of the corresponding period of the previous fiscal, the data showed.

Taiwanese company invests $28m in Comilla EPZ

Taiwanese company invests $28m in Comilla EPZ

DHAKA, Bangladesh, Nov 27 (BSS) – Eusebio Textile (Bangladesh) Limited, a Taiwanese company, will invest 28 million US dollars to set up a polyester and nylon fabrics industry in the Comilla Export Processing Zone (EPZ).

The 100-percent foreign-owned company will produce and export 60 million meters of polyester and nylon fabrics annually. The company will also create jobs for 2,145 Bangladeshis, besides 15 foreigners.

Read the full article:

Footwear exporters see brisk business as foreign buyers shifted focus to BD

Footwear exporters see brisk business as foreign buyers shifted focus to BD

Staff Correspondent

The country’s footwear exporters will remain busy until January next as they have received advanced orders since foreign buyers have shifted their focus onto Bangladesh from mainly China and Vietnam.

Leathergoods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association of Bangladesh President Md Saiful Islam said, “We will remain busy until January next. Orders for the period will be 30 percent higher than that of last year.”

The local footwear manufacturers have managed to receive substantial number of orders as the world’s renowned shoe retailers have shifted their focus onto Bangladesh as major source of supply since the European Union decided to scrap the facility offered to Vietnam from January next.

The 27-nation EU recently scrapped the Generalized System of Preference (GSP) facility for Vietnam-made footwear, arguing that the Southeast Asian country, which earned almost US$ 4.0 billion last year from export of footwear, no longer qualifies for the facility because of the industry’s relatively stronger position. Apart from this, Islam, also Managing Director of Picard Bangladesh Ltd, said, “A stable political situation in the country also contributed to the rise in orders we received.”

Bangladesh is now strategically in a better position than any of its South East Asian neighbors including India and Pakistan, as Chinese and Vietnamese shoes have become costlier in the global market for various reasons including soaring labour costs and withdrawal of GSP facilities, industry insiders said.

China, the world’s largest shoe exporting country, accounts for around 62 percent of the global market while Vietnam accounts for 8.0 percent, Italy 12 percent and the rest of the world the remaining 18 percent. Currently, the world market size for shoes and other leather products is worth more than US$ 100 billion a year, and sport shoes account for nearly $40 billion. With more than 80 percent value addition, Islam said, the industry that now employs around 100,000 workers emerge as another potential sector for the country’s economy.

“The amount of earnings from footwear exports in the next five years will be around half a billion dollar while the sector will employ nearly 0.2 million people,” Islam added. He said “We are yet to see any impact of global financial woes on the country’s footwear industry. It is unlikely to hamper our booming growth.”

Following the potentials, he said a large number of local entrepreneurs have already started investing in footwear industry on their own or in joint ventures with any foreign company.

Sector insiders said experts from Gucci of Italy, Nike of the United Kingdom, Reebok of Germany, Timberland of the USA and the ABC-Mart Incorporate of Japan recently visited a number of local shoe factories including Apex Shoes, Jennys Footwear Limited, HNH Footwear and Bay Footwear and enquired about their existing infrastructures. Apart from this, a good number of giant shoe makers of South Korea and China have already come here for investment.