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.