Jute sector shines despite corona

Sohel Hossain Patwary

10th July, 2020 01:06:42 printer

Jute sector shines despite corona

Despite a prolonged slowdown in trade, commerce and exports amid the coronavirus crisis, Bangladesh’s jute sector defied the odds by exceeding the export target for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

Exports of jute and jute products saw an impressive 8.10 per cent year-on-year growth to $882 million in the fiscal year. The figure is also 7.08 per cent higher than the sector’s annual export target of $824 million.

Although the country’s export earnings saw a massive fall in the just-concluded fiscal year, exports of jute and jute goods remained on the track, thanks to the growing demand for Bangladeshi jute and jute products on the international market.

While major sectors like ready-made garments, leather and leather goods, frozen and live fish, agriculture and plastic have missed the export targets by huge margin amid the corona crisis, the jute sector exceeded its export target.

With the latest export figures, the jute sector has upgraded its position next to the garment sector by outperforming the leather and leather goods sector.

Bangladesh’s export earnings for the FY 20 fell by 16.93 per cent amid the coronavirus pandemic that dismantled the global supply chain and shrank the global economy.

Sector insiders said the demand for jute and jute products has been increasing worldwide owing to the growing shift towards eco-friendly products instead of polythene and plastic items.

Taking the opportunity of growing global demand, Bangladeshi exporters are steadily attracting global buyers from all over the world.

Tofazzal Hossain, vice-chairman of Bangladesh Jute Goods Exporters’ Association (BJGEA), said though it is good news for the sector, the earnings would have higher if the global economy had not been hit by the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The demand of jute and jute products are increasing from EU countries that would rise further in coming days, he added.

Referring to the policy differences between the export earning sectors, Tofazzal Hossain thinks all sector should get the same policy benefits like apparel sector to encourage exploration of new markets.

The government should pay more attention to the jute sector to take the earnings to $2 billion in the next few years is possible, he added. Bangladeshi manufacturers are exporting jute and jute products to around 60 countries around the world. Bangladesh mainly exports raw jute and jute products like hessian, jute basket, roll, webbing, matting, shoes, bags and others.

Belgium, Canada, the USA, the UK, China, Italy, Germany, India, Iran, Japan are the major destination for Bangladeshi jute and jute products while demand from Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Pakistan, Brazil, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Portugal, Thailand, Turkey, South Africa, Romania are other African Nations are significantly rising.

Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) Chairman Md. Abdur Rouf said the government has long been trying to diversify export items, which has been reflected in the export basket of the jute sector.

“The private sector has been contributing to boosting the country’s foreign currency income,” he said, adding that the government is now focusing on working together with the private sector for making a bigger footprint in the world market.