Monthly Archives: September 2009

B’desh to emerge as ‘leader in shipbuilding sector’

B’desh to emerge as ‘leader in shipbuilding sector’

FE Report

The country’s emerging shipbuilding industry is capable to fare well in meeting the demand for sea vessels as more than 50 per cent of the existing ships will have to be replaced due to aging, said the Danish Ambassador in Dhaka Tuesday.

Ambassador Einar H Jensen said 25 per cent of the aging ships that would be gradually replaced are small and medium size vessels and Bangladesh could emerge as a leader in Asia in this sector because of lower costs.

“There is no doubt that ships built in Bangladesh are of good quality,” he said while addressing the inaugural session of a national conference on ship building as special guest at Hotel Sonargaon on Tuesday.

The Danish envoy said the industry is still dependent on import of raw materials to build ships of different categories. Such dependence can be removed if the government extends its support to the industry, he added.

He said in order to meet the growing global demand that is recovering from recession, the country should focus on developing the ship building industry. He stressed the need for reducing corrupt practices and meeting eight important compliance standards on ship-building including security and safety of the workers to get a foothold in the global market.

Ambassador Einar informed the conference that some 20 Danish shipping companies will visit the country soon to explore the potentials of buying ships.

The conference, which was organised by Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) was also addressed by head of European Commission Delegates Stefan Frowein as special guest.

Among others, President of Ship Builders Association KM Mahmood ur Rahman, BFTI head MA Taslim and Dr Abdullahel Bari of Ananda Group and Sakhawat Hossain of Western Marine Shipyard spoke.

Prof Khabirul Haque Chowdhury, head of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering Department of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) presented the keynote paper.

Stefan Frowein focused on trade relation between Bangladesh and European countries and said export of diversified products from Bangladesh was worth 4.3 billion Euro taking trade relations in favour of the country.

“It is likely to expand with the emergence of ship building industry,” he added.

In the keynote paper, the BUET Prof claimed that the country has the capacity to be recognised as a ship building nation due to some advantages including a good number of shipyards, training and research facilities, cheap labour force with experience of international market.

“Bangladesh can be one of the top 10 ship building countries of the world,” he said.

The keynote speaker said recession has increased the demand for small and medium sized vessels compatible with the country’s capacity and stressed the requirement for formulating a national ship building strategy and integration of facilities of ship building.

President of Ship Builders Association KM Mahmood ur Rahman said ship building industry is not only a thrust sector for Bangladesh it is also a thrust sector of the world. This market size is US$ 400 billion which is likely to increase with the recovery of global slowdown.

Shipbuilders flourish on small vessel orders

Shipbuilders flourish on small vessel orders

Stefan Frowein, head of European Commission Delegation to Bangladesh, speaks at the BFTI National Shipbuilding Conference, organised by Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka yesterday.Photo: STAR

Stefan Frowein, head of European Commission Delegation to Bangladesh, speaks at the 'BFTI National Shipbuilding Conference', organised by Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka yesterday.Photo: STAR

Star Business Report

Local shipbuilders are banking on the ongoing recession to carve itself a position in the global market, as the demand for smaller vessels has increased, shipbuilders and analysts said yesterday.

“Orders for small ships have gone up because of the global financial crisis,” said Sakhawat Hossain, managing director of Western Marine Shipyard Ltd, an export-oriented shipbuilder.

“Giant shipbuilders cannot capitalise on this new market demand, as their projects will prove to be unfeasible because of the high overhead costs they bear,” he said.

He was speaking at the ‘BFTI National Shipbuilding Conference’, organised by Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) at Sonargaon Hotel, where analysts and shipbuilders focused on Bangladesh’s potential to secure a position in the global shipbuilding market.

Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan, Head of European Commission Delegation to Bangladesh Stefan Frowein and Danish Ambassador Einar Hebogaard Jensen were present, while BFTI Chief Executive Officer Prof MA Taslim chaired the event.

Khan said the government will facilitate the shipbuilding industry to allow it to excel.

Analysts observed that Bangladesh has the scope to emerge as an export based shipbuilding nation within a decade because of advantages like cheap labour, a presence of nearly 1,00,000 skilled and semiskilled workers and industry related educational and training institutes.

A long history of maritime activity and a favourable geographical location also placed the country at a favourable position, with about 200 shipyards and workshops to cater to the domestic needs for water vessels.

However, Bangladesh’s opportunity to emerge as a shipbuilding nation under global standards was created in the last couple of years, as other traditional shipbuilding nations showed little interests in making small ships.

Two leading local shipbuilders — Ananda Shipyard and Slipways Ltd and Western Marine Shipyard Ltd — have bagged orders to make over 40 small vessels worth about $0.6 billion mainly from European buyers.

Including these two shipbuilders, according to analysts, about 10 local shipyards are capable of making ships up to 10,000 DWT as per international standards.

But capacity upgrades and expansion are needed for a majority of them to compete in the global arena with shipbuilders in other countries, such as Vietnam, Indonesia and India.

“By 2012, the world will need more than 10,000 vessels, mostly small to medium sized,” said the Western Marine MD.

His remarks came at a time when some local shipyard operators took a go-slow approach in expanding yard capacity to make ships of international standards, as recession drastically cut demand for new shipbuilding orders in 2009.

“But this is of little relevance to the Bangladeshi shipbuilding industry, as the market for certain sections of small-ships and vessels of various types is unaffected by recession,” said Dr Abdullahel Bari, chairman of Ananda Shipyard, which pioneered in winning orders to build ships for export.

Prof Khabirul Haque Chowdhury, head of the Depart-ment of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering of Bangla-desh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), said recession has caused a drop in demand for large vessels.

“Shipbuilding recession will have to end. Orders will be activated, may be of different sizes,” he said, suggesting yards go for expansion and upgrades to win export orders.

Citing examples from South Korea, he said in the past recession, the country expanded its capacity instead of reducing business scales. “They succeeded,” he said.

Govt prop for ship builders assured

Govt prop for ship builders assured


Shipping minister Shajahan Khan yesterday said that the government was ready to give full logistic support to shipbuilders to ensure that the industry flourished considering its export potential.

The government had already taken some initiatives to help the shipbuilding sector, he said while addressing a seminar as chief guest on the ‘National Shipbuilding Conference’ held at the Pan Pacific, Sonargaon Hotel yesterday.

The event is organised by the Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI), a non-profit research and training institution built on the concept of public-private partnership.

It is one of the four components of the Bangladesh Trade Support Programme (BTSP).

The conference marks the end of the BTSP, which has been funded by the European Union over the past four years to the order of 7.8 million Euros, and has been implemented by the Ministry of Commerce of Bangladesh.

The shipping minister was happy that the shipbuilders had already exported some quality ships to a foreign country.

“Thousands of locally built ships ply its inland waters. The country has a history of supplying ocean-faring vessels to European countries. It is also a great opportunity for us,” the minister added.

The appearance of clear signs that the world economy was on the road to recovery will provide challenging opportunities for the Bangladesh shipbuilding industry to make its mark, but the key to achieving success lies in preparing today,” he said.

Professor M A Taslim, CEO, BFTI, welcomed the guests. Stefan Frowein, Head of the European Commission delegates to Bangladesh and Einar Hebogaard Jensen, Danish Ambassador to Bangladesh, were present as special guests at the conference.

The Danish Ambassador said that he was satisfied with the achievement so far and was hopeful that “Made in Bangladesh” would become a trusted name and would be regarded as a serous alternative to the ship-building industry in neighbouring countries like India, Vietnam and China.

Professor Khabirul Haque Chowdhury head, Department of Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering of BUET, presented his keynote research paper on “Transformation in Research and Technological Development and Innovation in Shipbuilding Industry and the Implications for Shipbuilding competitiveness.”

He said that the ship building in Bangladesh had evolved from traditional methods into a modern industry capable of competing successfully in the international markets.

“If it is to convert the recent world downturn into an opportunity, it must begin now to ensure that it develops the most accommodating and enabling environment, where there is sufficient skilled labour, compliance with international class standards, easy access to affordable raw materials, efficient import and export processing mechanisms, investment in infrastructure, research training and technological development and appropriate financial incentives.  Networks, clusters, suppliers, trade organisations, financing institutions, civil society, the government and public and private sector bodies must work together to achieve a common goal,” he added.

Dr. Abdullahel Bari, Chairman, Ananda Group, and Sakhawat Hossain Managing Director of Western Marine Shipyard Ltd., the top shipbuilding organisations of Bangladesh, presented their papers.

General Manager of Bangladesh Bank Razee Hasan presented his note on growth and future plan and financial policy for the shipbuilding industry from a bank’s perceptive.

K M Mahmood-ur-Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Shipbuilders Association asked for support from government and FDI investment.

Leveraging Bangladeshi diaspora

Leveraging Bangladeshi diaspora

Ifty Islam

The untapped opportunities in more effectively engaging Bangladesh’s large diaspora have been a subject I have covered in previous columns. In this article I wanted to discuss the launch of the BEI-AT Capital diaspora programme in the UK recently as well as an encouraging practical example of the potential benefits of leveraging our professional NRBs (non-resident Bangladeshis) during the prime minister’s recent trip to New York.

Remittance flows primarily from migrant workers in the Middle East, Europe and the US have been one of the standout successes of our economic development and continue to make an invaluable contribution in excess of $12 billion per year (including unofficial flows). There is little doubt in my mind that this can be expanded further with more focused skill development programmes and this appears to be a priority for the new government and was highlighted in the recent successful conference on remittances in Dhaka organised by Scholars Bangladesh.

But we believe that there are important objectives beyond maximising the volume of remittances. Rather we focus on developing a strategy to unlock the hidden potential of the Bangladeshi diaspora in areas such as knowledge transfer and greater FDI (foreign direct investment). We have produced a detailed report titled “Beyond Remittances: A Strategy to Leverage the Bangladeshi Diaspora” that surveys both the academic literature and also the critical features of the most successful diaspora programmes from countries like India, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Some keys to success for Bangladesh to replicate the effectiveness of its diaspora strategy include:

1. Having a strong home country institution to facilitate diaspora exchanges with a comprehensive global database of NRBs both individually and groups.

2. Ensuring engagement is mutually beneficial to both NRBs and the home country. This will entails ensuring that NRBs have not only attractive investment opportunities but confidence and clarity on issues like repatriation and sufficient knowledge to make informed investment decisions.

3. Host governments and the multilateral agencies can play an important role in both funding and facilitating the growth of vibrant diaspora networks.

There is a regular stream of NRB groups from Europe and North America visiting Dhaka and Sylhet that features prominently in the Bangladeshi media. But the translation of such trips into a substantial number of new investment projects, or having a sustained and ongoing impact and interface with the Bangladesh economy appears to be lacking. It might be argued that the missing link is an effective diaspora platform within Bangladesh to leverage the NRB groups and networks globally.

In this context, Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) and Asian Tiger Capital, with the support of the UK Department for International Development (DFID), launched its UK diaspora programme at a Bangladesh-British Chamber of Commerce (BBCC) event on September 23 in London. It was attended by over 175 people with BEI President Farooq Sobhan and me outlining the key aspects of our programme which are as follows:

1. Eight workshops/seminars will be held in the UK over the next 12 months jointly with NRB groups both in London and across the country to encourage the British citizens of Bangladeshi origin to share their knowledge and skills and contribute to the economical transformation of Bangladesh. A further four workshops will be held in Dhaka at BEI, one per quarter. This will include relevant government officials and representatives of Bangladeshi business. The first seminar will coincide with the BBCC/UK Department of Trade and Industry visit in November 2009.

2. The creation of a database of British citizens with Bangladeshi origin, who are occupying key positions and can contribute transfer of knowledge and know-how with their name, addresses and occupation.

3. A website,, to be developed with a web-based newsletter covering the economy, the stock market and NRB advocacy issues which will be publicised within Bangladesh as well as among the NRBs globally.

A number of leading British NRBs spoke at the BBCC event and what really struck me was their passion and commitment as well as practical suggestions about how best NRBs can work with the Bangladesh government and the country’s private sector to accelerate Bangladesh’s economic development. Bajloor Rashid, president of the Bangladesh Caterers Association (BCA), made a number of specific recommendations including the need to set joint investment to establish training centres both in the UK and Bangladesh for restaurant workers. Secondly, he suggested a joint working group be set up with Bangladesh government such as All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on FDI and an APPG on NRB to ensure that safeguards and implemented policies remain constant.

He felt this can also then provide an avenue for consultation and direct involvement between the UK and Bangladesh that would go a long way to build confidence of NRB to participate fully in Bangladesh’s economic development. Iqbal Ahmed, chairman of Seamark, covered a broad range of themes, but one challenge he highlighted that resonated with a number of speakers and the audience was the need to ensure the next generation of NRBs who were born in the UK remain interested and engaged with Bangladesh.

Chairman SB Faruk and other BBCC directors should be strongly commended for the time, energy and resources they committed to making the seminar an effective launching pad for the diaspora programme. Overall, we were extremely encouraged by the genuine and broad-based enthusiasm of the NRB community in the UK to step up their level of support in Bangladesh’s development not only in terms of investment flows, but also skill transfers, policy engagement and also the re-branding of Bangladesh.

On the latter, I have written in the past about NRBs being “Brand Agents” by providing more effective marketing of Bangladesh as an investment destination. In this context, the speech on September 23 by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to a significant number of senior Wall Street professionals was organised jointly by our new Ambassador to the UN Dr Momem, along with two finance NRBs, Nasim Ali of remittance business Transfast, and Haseeb Ahmeed of JP Morgan Chase, among others.

Their ability to leverage their own networks to ensure attendance of that level of seniority is evidence of leveraging the diaspora in action. We should expand this partnership between Bangladesh government and the diaspora via the Board of Investment and FBCCI in our future re-branding Bangladesh strategies. We look forward to working with the various UK NRB groups and indeed expanding the programme to the US and Continental Europe and remaining committed to unlocking the contribution of our diaspora to Bangladesh’s economic development.

The writer is the managing partner at Asian Tiger Capital Partners and can be reached at

Confce on shipbuilding in city today

Confce on shipbuilding in city today
Staff Correspondent, CHITTAGONG

Sept 28: A conference on shipbuilding in Bangladesh under the auspices of the Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) will be held at Pan Pacific Sonargaon tomorrow (Tuesday). The day-long programme is divided into two sessions.

Commerce Minister Col. Faruk Khan will attend the first session as the chief guest while Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan will attend the second session as the chief guest. European Commission Ambassador and Danish Ambassador will attend as special guests besides a host of shipping experts.

The representatives of Western Marine Shipyard Limited and Ananda Shipbuilders will present special papers on shipbuilding in Bangladesh.

It may be mentioned that the shipbuilding industry is flourishing fast in Bangladesh.

Western Marine Shipyard Limited, a local shipbuilding firm has recently received an offer of building 18 ships costing about US$180 million for building five ships from Denmark, one ship from Finland and 12 ships from Germany.

Ananda Shipbuilders is now constructing four ships for Germany. Besides, it is expected to deliver ship “Stella Moon” to Danish owners in November this year.

Another shipbuilder Karnaphuli Shipbuilders is now building four sea trucks for BIWTC which were designed in France.

Meanwhile, shipbuilding sources said that Bangladesh might receive more offers for building ships from European countries.

Orders for building of more than 40 ships from the European countries are now in pipeline, they added.

18 power plants to be set up by 2011, generate 1,350 MW power

18 power plants to be set up by 2011, generate 1,350 MW power

BSS, Faridpur

The government is going to set up a number of small capacity power generation plants across the country to meet the nagging power shortage which is hampering the development and overall economic activities.

According to a Power Development Board (PDB) source, the government has a plan to set up 18 power plants in different parts of the country by 2011 to add 1,350 MW additional power to the national grid.

Of the total power plants, eight will be on rental basis set up by the private companies and their collective power generation will be 530 MW while 10 plants will be set up in public sector to generate 820 MW of electricity.

The government will have to purchase power from the private companies at a higher rate but will sale it to the consumers at a subsidized price to keep the pace of development unhindered, the source added.

The rental power stations will be set up at Thakurgaon-50 MW, Syedpur-50 MW, Jamalpur-30 MW, Katakhali (Rajshahi)-50 MW, Bheramara-100 MW, Madanganj (Narayanganj)-100 MW, Noapara (Jessore)-100 MW and Barisal-50 MW.

The 10 other plants in the public sector will be set up at Shantahar- 50 MW, Katakhali (Rajshahi)-50 MW, Baghabari-50, Bera- 70 MW, Ghorashal-200 MW, Faridpur-50 MW, Gopalganj-100 MW, Titas (Comilla)-50 MW, Hathazari-100 MW and Dohazari-100 MW totalling 820 MW of electricity to be added in the national grid.

The 50 MW Faidpur power plant will be set up at Chandipur, in the suburb of the town on Dhaka-Khulna highway. The required land for the purpose is under process of acquisition by the district administration.

The PDB source said that the pre-bid meeting of the rental power projects was held yesterday at the PDB headquarter yesterday. The intending bidders will submit their bidding on October 22 next. The successful bidders will be awarded contracts on November 19 next and the contracts will be signed on November 30 of the current year.

The source said that the diesel operated rental plants will go into operation by March next year while the furnace oil run plants will start power generation in August next year. The source said that the PDB has submitted a draft project proposal on the schemes to the government for approval. The PDB as per commitment of the present government will take necessary measures to generate additional 5000 MW electricity by 2013.

Resort town makes brisk business

Resort town makes brisk business
Cox’s Bazar hosts over 1 lakh Eid holidaymakers

Our Correspondent . Cox’s Bazar

More than one lakh tourists gathered in Cox’s Bazar during Eid holidays to cast off the boredom of routine life and spend time in close contact with the nature, boosting the business in the sea resort town.

All the 120 residential hotels and motels and 50 guesthouses were packed up with the tourists amid additional security measures taken by the district administration and the police took during the vacation beginning with the weekly holidays and including the vacation of Eid-ul-Fitr and Durga Puja from September 20 to 22.

Some of the victors reached Cox’s Bazar on September 20th and performed their Eid prayers there while some drove to the sea town to spend one day.

The Cox’s Bazar beach management committee arranged some events including horse-ride, nagardola, speedboats etc for the tourists.

Md Gias Uddin Ahmed, deputy commissioner, Cox’s Bazar, told New Age that the administration including police, tourists police, had taken special security measures for the tourists.

He also mentioned that the tourist spots of Cox’s Bazar, including Dolhazara safari park, historical Ramu Ram court, historical Adinat Mandir at Moheshkhali, Inani, Himchari, Teknaf, St Martins, Sonadia, were the main attractions for the tourists.

Mosharaf Hossen Dulal, president, Cox’s Bazar shell market traders’ association, said hundreds of tourists visited the shell market.

Huge apparel buyers expected this year

Huge apparel buyers expected this year
Refayet Ullah Mirdha

Bangladesh expects a massive brace of international buyers this year as two major trade bodies are preparing to host two important international apparel expositions in November.

In the last fiscal year the country outperformed in garment exports to many destinations as the buyers flocked here to purchase cheap apparels despite recession, industry insiders said.

The BATEXPO-09 will be held on November 5-7 under the auspices of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

“We expect buyers in large number this time because Bangladesh is now considered a lucrative place for global apparel merchandisers,” BGMEA President Abdus Salam Murshedy said.

Cheap basic apparel products will attract new buyers from Japan, South Africa, Mexico and Brazil to the annual exposition this time, he added.

Countries like USA, EU, Australia, Canada, China and India are also expected to participate in the show

This year the foreign buyers have already confirmed for 11 stalls to participate in the 20th BATEXPO to be held at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, according to the apex trade body for the apparel sector.

Similarly, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) is going to organise its 5th Knitexpo-09 on November 2-4 at Dhaka Sheraton Hotel, a BKMEA official said.

As part of the exposition, Fazlul Hoque, the BKMEA president, visited Japan and Hong Kong recently to invite the buyers of these potential markets to participate in the exposition.

“This year’s Knitexpo will be the biggest event as 80 international buyers have already confirmed their participation. The number of such foreign participants would cross 100,” Hoque said.

He said he is going to South Africa and Botswana Saturday to invite the buyers and investors to visit Bangladesh.

Bangladesh exported knitwear worth $6.429 billion in 2008-09 fiscal-year showing a 16.21 percent growth over the same period a year earlier. During the same time Bangladesh exported woven items worth $5.918 billion registering a 14.54 percent growth, Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data said.

3-year import-export policy approved

3-year import-export policy approved

UNB, Dhaka

The Cabinet Economic Affairs Committee on Sunday endorsed the country’s new export-import policy for next three years (2009-2012) creating room for conditional import of some new products, including eggs of hens, ducks and birds.

However, the new policy will need the full-fledged Cabinet’s final approval before it comes into effect.

As per administrative procedure, Cabinet Economic Affairs Committee’s nod is a prerequisite for an export-import policy before its placing for final Cabinet approval.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith presided over the meeting. The new export-import policy was approved under two separate folds with the titles “Export Policy 2009-2012” and “Import Policy Order 2009-2012”.

Additional Secretary of the Cabinet Division Tariqul Islam briefed reporters about the outcome of the meeting. He sad the cabinet body made some amendments to the draft policy prepared and placed by the Commerce Ministry with the meeting.

WTO compliances came into consideration during the amendments.

The new import policy added some new products, with some conditions, to the country’s import basket while the export policy also incorporated the nascent shipbuilding industry into the list of thrust sectors.

Oceangoing ships and vessels’ export has been added as the seventh item to the existing six-item list of thrust industries, which include agro-product and processing, light engineering, shoes and leather goods, pharmaceuticals, software and IT and home textiles.

On the other hand, the import of some new items, which often came out to be essential commodities, has been relaxed through softening the conditions tying their import.

In some cases, the import bar was completely withdrawn from some items on some conditions, while in other cases, some new conditions were imposed on the import of some other products.

Under the new import policy, the import of maximum 3-year-old reconditioned cars has been allowed for taxicab services in compliance with the new national budget.

Melamine-free certification has been made mandatory for the import of powdered milk and milk foods while import of tinned powdered milk allowed up to 2.5 kg.

The import of eggs of hens, ducks and birds was allowed in the new import policy on some conditions while some conditions were imposed on the import of scrap vessels.

The egg import has been permitted at a time when the country often faced artificial crisis of the essential food item, which is blamed on the domestic factory farmers.

The import of capital machinery and raw materials without any L/C by RMG industries, import of reconditioned generator and generating sets on commercial basis, crude soybean and palm oil import by industries and import of telecommunications machinery for private-sector operators have been allowed in the new import policy.

Some new sectors have been declared as special development sectors in the new export policy which include crust and finished leather, frozen foods, fish processing, handicrafts, electric and electronic goods, live-flowers, jute and jute-goods, hill tracts handloom, unfinished diamond and imitation jewelry, ceramic, melamine and plastic goods.

‘Bangladesh can overtake Vietnam in billion dollar global Pangas market’

‘Bangladesh can overtake Vietnam in billion dollar global Pangas market’

Munima Sultana

Bangladesh can grab a large slice of the billion dollar global Pangas market, as local farms are raising the fish much cheaper than their Vietnamese counterparts, farmers and officials said Sunday.

Vietnam has a 98 per cent stake in global Pangas export, shipping fillet and fish worth over billion dollars in Europe and America last year at a rate the Bangladeshi farmers said only they can match in the international market.

With shrimp becoming a luxury food in the recession-hit West, millions of fish lovers have now switched their liking to Pangas, triggering a 20-30 per cent growth in consumption in the European markets alone over the past 18 months.

“Pangas fish farming has become an established agro-processing industry in the country over the last decade,” said Mohammad Sazzad Hossain, a leader of Bangladesh fish farmer association.

“Yet, there has been no government initiative to explore export market for the fast booming farming sector. In contrast, Vietnam has moved aggressively and now enjoys a complete monopoly,” he said.

According to the Department of Fisheries, Bangladeshi farmers last year cultivated 2.25 million metric tonnes of Pangas — also known as catfish — against a nationwide demand of 2.9 million metric tonnes.

Farmers said after a massive growth in the 1990s and earlier this decade, production has stagnated in the last two years owing to low price regime as the fish is considered poor people’s protein source.

On an average farmers in the main Pangas production areas now spend Tk40 to raise one-kilogram Pangas fish, which is lower than the production cost in Vietnam.

“Yet, we have failed to cash in on our price advantages in the European market despite high demand. We lack hygiene and processing standards that are prerequisite for export,” Sazzad said.

“There is no integrated plan from the authorities to export the fish, which can inject a new momentum in the Pangas industry and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs,” he said.

Dr. MA Mazid, national consultant of UN Industries Development Organisation (UNIDO), said cultivation of Pangas has been a “big success story” of our agro sector in the past one decade.

“It can overtake shrimp as the leading frozen food export item, as research has shown Bangladeshi ponds and rivers are the most suitable place to raise Pangas,” Mazid said.

To reach that goal, he said some 4,000 Pangas farms in the country should first ensure quality of fish fries, proper dietary feeding and environment friendly cultivation — features seen as crucial for entry into the export market.

Farmers also admit that the Pangas cultivation suffers from a number of setbacks including non-availability of balanced food, excess land taxes and ban on import of some key raw materials.

“But most of these problems are created by the authorities. Unless they fix these setbacks, we can’t grow like the Vietnamese farms,” another farmer said.

A high official of Department of Fisheries said the government is aware of the export potential of Pangas, but the farmers should first come forward with an “integrated plan.”

Sazzad said Vietnam has already set a target to earn $ 4.0 billion from Pangas export in 2010, “yet we are now sleeping over our potentials.”

“We have recently sought incentives from the government to implement compliance standards demanded by the European Union. But so far we haven’t heard anything from the government.”

Shipbuilding industry ‘can be 3rd largest forex earner in 10 years’

Shipbuilding industry ‘can be 3rd largest forex earner in 10 years’
Jasim Uddin Haroon

The country’s shipbuilding industry could become the third largest foreign exchange earner in less than ten years if the government provides support services of issues relating to bank guarantees, access through green channels and declaring export-oriented shipyards as export processing zones (EPZs).

This was revealed in a study on shipbuilding industry in Bangladesh: current position and prospects for future growth conducted by the Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI), a non-profit research institution.

“The government should not dwell over these decisions too long as India and Indonesia are increasing their own ocean-faring vessel capacities,” the study, which is likely to be presented at the country’s first-ever BFTI national shipbuilding conference to be held on September 29.

The study said the ship building industry in India had grown from Rs 10.17 billion in 2002 to Rs 36.57 billion in 2007 as a result of government support over those five years, with sales increasing to Rs 52.83 billion in 2008.

The report said: “This confirms that government can play a crucial role in setting up an enabling environment for the Bangladeshi shipbuilding industry.”

However, the study said bank guarantee constitutes a very significant portion of the total project cost saying the local shipbuilders are paying approximately 7.6 per cent of the total contract value for obtaining bank guarantees.

“If the government could provide bank guarantee through the Bank Bangladesh, this cost could be reduced significantly,” the report added.

The government has already granted the industry a partial green channel status. In terms of the current provisions no customs duties are payable on imports of raw materials and components for use in shipbuilding.

The study said: “Granting full green channel status to export-oriented shipbuilders will not place any additional burden to the government, but will save the industry 0.9 per cent of the contract value.”

The report advocated that the shipbuilding yards be declared export processing zones saying: “This would imply that all sales made to such shipyards will be deemed to be export sales.”

Technology plays a major role in the industry and the industry is required to purchase basic drawings at an estimated cost of US$ 200,000, according to the study.

“Considering the importance of this technology, the government may consider subsidising the acquisition of technology, for instance, by undertaking to pay a certain percentage of the cost of acquiring such technology,” the study added.

Currently ship builders have to import virtually all materials required, which constitutes nearly 65 per cent.

If a contract for a shipbuilding is worth $28 million, material imports constitutes around $ 18.2 million.

Govt to develop 4 satellite towns around Dhaka

Govt to develop 4 satellite towns around Dhaka, Dhaka

The government is set to develop four satellite towns surrounding the capital to ease the housing crisis and pressure on utilities on the capital.

The four towns, each equipped with one 100,000 accommodation facility, will be implemented under public-private partnership initiative, state minister for housing and public works Abdul Mannan Khan said in an exclusive interview with

Discussion is already on at the government’s top level while his ministry has begun buying lands for the project, Mannan said.

The areas where there is plenty of government-owned land would be given priority, the minister said.

“The government has initiated some more projects afresh. The proposed towns will be developed beyond the purview of Detailed Area Plan (DAT) of RAJUK,” he said

Each town sprawled over 500 acres of land will feature some 20 multi-storied buildings, each with 40-80 flats, he said.

Each town is supposed to have one lakh flats.

“The proposed satellite towns would be equipped with their own internal solar system, rainwater reservoir and security system so that the government does not have to provide additional power, water and security for the dwellers.”

The minister declined to elaborate on the project lest earlier announcement might cause the land price for the proposed site to soar.

“It might pose a threat to the prospect of the projects.”

He further said the government wanted to complete the project before it runs its term and added that it will hand the lands over to the domestic and foreign investors in line with terms of the contract.

Government flats might be sold on ‘hire-purchase scheme’ and government employees will get priority, he said.

However, common people will have the opportunity to purchase the flats and developers will have to sell out the flats at prices fixed by the government, Mannan said.

Asked if they had found any interested foreign organisation, the minister said local housing business body REHAB has already offered to invest in the projects.

On top of that, investors from Korea, Malaysia and Switzerland have responded.

Currently, around 150 million people live in Dhaka where accommodation facilities have not matched growing demand.

Only seven percent of the civil servants, based in Dhaka, enjoy government accommodation while the rest live on their own.

Shipbuilding Industry poised to face unprecedented changes in Bangladesh

Shipbuilding Industry poised to face unprecedented changes in Bangladesh

Business Report

Shipbuilding could become Bangladesh’s second largest export currency earning production industry by the year 2015. If it is to reach its potential, and indeed flourish as a pillar of Bangladesh’s economic development, the ground must be laid today to facilitate an enabling environment that sees the industry and the Government working hand in hand.

Whilst the types of ships produced in Bangladesh and other ship-building nations has seen several tides of change during the 20th century, the Bangladesh shipping industry must now focus on seizing a market opportunity that could see Bangladesh emerge as one of the key world players.

To do this, it must ensure that it develops the most accommodating and enabling environment, where there is sufficient skilled labour, including designers, naval architects and marine engineers, where meeting international class standards and obtaining international recognition is a priority, where access to raw materials is affordable and easy, where import and export processing requirements are effective, where investment in infrastructure ensures that the industry consistently matches international requirements, where quality, training and technology ensure international reputation, where networks, clusters, suppliers, trade organisations and public and private sector bodies work together to achieve a common goal, and where financial incentives, such as bank guarantees, Green Channel status, Export Processing Zones, foreign exchange charges, tax holidays and subsidies, provide the crutch that makes the difference between economic failure and economic success of an industry.

The changing environment of the shipbuilding industry and the clear sign that the world economy is on the road to recovery, presents an opportunity for the Bangladesh Shipbuilding industry to make its mark, but the key to achieving success tomorrow, lies in preparing today.

Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI), a national trade policy think-tank in a public-private partnership organizing an International Shipbuilding Conference on Tuesday, 29 September 2009 at Pan Pacific Sonargaon, Dhaka.

Md. Faruk Khan MP, Honorable Minister for Commerce will be present as Chief Guest in the inaugural session while Shajahan Khan MP, Minister for Shipping will attend the closing session of the Conference.

Stefan Frowein Head of European Commission Delegates to Bangladesh and Einar Hebogaard Jensen the Danish Ambassador to Bangladesh will be present as special guests in the conference.

BFTI, an internationally reputed institute for trade policy research, and a centre of excellence for education and training of the highest standard on trade and business-related subjects aims at enhancing trade and business knowledge of the government and private sector officials through top quality research, policy advice, education and training.

Bangladesh Trade Fair begins in Malaysia from Oct 23

Bangladesh Trade Fair begins in Malaysia from Oct 23

BSS, Dhaka

The second Bangladesh Single Country Trade Fair will be held at Mardeka (Liberation) Square at Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia on October 23-25.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed recently with the Exchange Trade Centre International, the management authority of Mardeka Square, Malaysia recently for organizing the even efficiently.

Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur will provide required logistic support for the fair, a press release said here today.

Global Economist Forum President and CEO of Dhaka International Exhibition Company Limited (DIEC) Enayet Karim and Tony Anastasi, CEO of Exchange Trade Centre International on behalf of their respective organization signed the MoU.

Interested participants are requested to contact with DIEC, 62/1 Purana Paltan, Dhaka, Tel: 7163850 for stall and information.

Former Prime Minister and architect of modern Malaysia Dr Mahathir Mohammad is expected to inaugurate the fair.

Cropping pattern change can double yield in north

Cropping pattern change can double yield in north
Finds research

Bss, Rajshahi

Rotating cultivation of rice, wheat and other crops under bed-planting system can double the yield in the northern districts, particularly in the high and dry Barind belt, according to an on-the-ground research finding.

Agricultural scientist Dr Ilias Hossain told the news agency that optimistic results were found in the research on cropping pattern, conducted at different locations of the region over the last couple of years.

Raised beds facilitates sowing without waste of time allowing crop growth to better match water availability, said Hossain, senior scientific officer at the Regional Wheat Research Centre (RWRC) of Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI).

Under the conventional system, he said, the single largest constraint requires planting of wheat in the country late in winter, leading to a poor yield.

Sowing bed could be a good alternative to the country’s dominant wet culture, he said.

Bed planting improves water distribution and irrigation efficiency, gives better results in using fertilisers and pesticides and reduces weed infestation and crop lodging.

It saves crops from disturbance from rats, Hossain said.

The pattern helps farmers save 30 percent irrigation water and 30 to 40 percent of seeds and fertilisers.

To maintain sound soil health, he said, it could be advisable to grow rice using a different system in order to improve compatibility between monsoon rice and upland winter crops.

This would also suit the shift in economic importance toward the winter crops over monsoon rice.

The success in growing rice on raised beds in northern Australia and eastern Indonesia and high yielding irrigated wheat in Mexico, dramatically increased the use of the practice elsewhere over the last decade.

The concept, he said, was successfully tried to grow, by rotation, soybean, maize, sorghum, garlic, moog daal (a kind of pulses), cassava and rice in eastern Indonesia.

By using the new pattern of crop rotation, the huge tracts of land that remain fallow in the Barind after the harvest of transplanted Aman each year, could be used to grow wheat, followed by moog daal, by providing small irrigation facilities, said RWRC Principal Scientific Officer Dr Israil Hossain.

Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) Deputy Director Braja Haridas said the large-scale cultivation of short-duration crops like wheat and mug dal could suit crop intensity and diversification with rice-based cropping pattern.

He said rice, wheat and moog daal seed varieties developed by BRRI and BARI were given to farmers through demonstration to popularise the cropping pattern.