Exports of plastic products has risen significantly at the beginning of the new financial year thanks to availability of raw materials at a cheaper rate, a robust government policy framework, production of quality products, enhanced manufacturing efficiency and export of products to new countries, according to industry insiders.
According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), a growth rate of 37.33 per cent, along with net export earnings of USD 12.95 million, was achieved in the first month (July) of FY2019–20 compared to USD 9.43 million earned during the same timeframe in FY2018–19.
Jashim Uddin, president of the Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association (BPGMEA), told The Independent that the US and European countries had increased their plastic imports from Bangladesh compared to a couple of years back.
Moreover, Bangladesh has started exporting plastic products to Germany as a new market, he said. When asked about the export factories, Jashim Uddin said export-oriented factories were increasing their capacity to meet overseas demand. “We have been exporting reasonable quantities of film plastic, garment accessories made of plastic and household plastic items to many countries around the world,” he added.
“This sector will grow further if we get a special industrial zone. In that case, we will be able to achieve approximately 3 per cent of the global market share in future,” he said. The global market size of plastic goods is about USD 570 billion and Bangladesh has only a 0.06 per cent market share.
In 2017-18, Bangladesh exported plastic items worth USD 600.89 million, which was 1.4 per cent of the country’s total export of $36.44 billion, according to the association.
Shamim Ahmed, former president of the Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association (BPGMEA), explained the reason behind the steady growth, saying India started taking recycled PET flakes, which earlier China used to take from Bangladesh. PET is used as a raw material for making packaging materials, such as bottles and containers, for a wide range of food products and other consumer goods.
Also, the export of four types of products—plastic hangers, plastic toys, PP woven polypropylene bags, and fax fibre bags—are increasing each year, he noted.
Citing another reason, he said that stable prices of plastic raw materials were also helping the export growth.
Shamim Ahmed further said that China was the prime plastic manufacturing country in the world. “But it’s now moving towards high-tech industries, creating huge opportunities for Bangladeshi exporters to increase their global market share,” he added.
At present, Bangladesh is exporting plastic products most to the US, Canada and European countries, said Ahmed.
When asked, the former BPGMEA president said: “China used to import plastic waste from us for further processing. But it has stopped doing so. The country is closing down plastic waste processing plants because of environmental pollution.”
“Plastic wastes have seen a negative growth of 43.06 per cent. Although India imports plastic waste from us, the quantity happens to be very small,” he added.
Bangladesh imports more than 155,000 metric tonnes of raw plastic materials each year, with the amount growing steadily.
“There are 5,000 small, medium and large plastic goods manufacturing units. The number was around 3,000 units a couple of years back,” said Shamim Ahmed. Some 1.2 million people are engaged in this sector, he added.
According to the BPGMEA, the plastic industry contributes around USD 900 million to the garments accessories market. Garments accessories and allied products, such as hangers, buttons, clips, collarbones and collar chips, are supplied by local plastic suppliers.