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EPB moves to explore OIC market for more exports

Bangladesh received spot orders worth about US$ 0.78 million and commitment for another US$ 31.77 million from the recently-concluded OIC Trade Fair, held in Riyadh, said officials of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB). “Bangladeshi merchandise, especially the readymade garments (RMG), leather and leather goods and ceramics received good response from buyers in the Middle Eastern (ME) countries”, said EPB vice chairman Mafruha Sultana, who attended the fair, mostly participated by the OIC countries. Foreign brands are very popular with consumers in ME, especially in Saudi Arabia and Dubai and most garments being used there are Bangladesh-made. They are using the brand clothes from Bangladesh via third parties, said the EPB chief adding that the Middle East might be a prospective non-traditional export market for Bangladeshi goods. The country’s leather and leather goods, ceramics and homemade textiles also received good response from foreign buyers, mainly from Saudi Arabia and Dubai. Women of Saudi Arabia are becoming very fashion conscious with liberalisation of their society and are very fond of jeans pants, shirts and trousers which Bangladesh produces  abundantly. The EPB chief is hopeful that most of the commitment, made in the fair, will turn into reality if the businessmen are serious and keep constant contact with the buyers.  The EPB plans to give more emphasis on ME market and hold at least three fairs in the oil-rich countries, especially two in Dubai and one in Saudi Arabia.  About 30 countries including Bangladesh took part in the 15th Trade Fair for OIC member-states held in Riyadh from May 22 to May 26, 2016.  A total of 36 companies from Bangladesh including 3 government agencies the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) and Bangladesh Overseas Employment and Services Limited (BOESL) participated in the fair with their stalls. They displayed a wide range of products like apparels, processed foods, towel and home textile with the slogan ‘Made in Bangladesh-Our brand, Our pride’ that attracted a huge number of foreign buyers. According to sources, a lion’s share of Bangladeshi garments enters the Middle East through China, Turkey, the USA and the EU. “If we can ensure direct negotiations with Middle Eastern countries, our entrepreneurs could gain many benefits,” said a member of the BGMEA. Bangladesh’s apparel exports have been mainly concentrated in two major destinations — European Union (60.28 per cent) and North America (24.64 per cent). Its share of the apparel export market other than the EU and North America was only 15.33 per cent in last fiscal year (2014-15). According to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), export growth in the country’s non-traditional markets is also increasing gradually, contributing to 12 per cent of the total RMG export.  Countries other than the EU and the USA are considered as non-traditional market which includes Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and Turkey.   According to the EPB, Bangladesh exported merchandise worth about $ 621 million to 12 countries. Of them, Saudi Arabia imported goods worth about US$ 293.042 million while the UAE bought US$ 186.317 million goods in 2014-15. Former BGMEA president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, who recently visited Saudi Arabia as a member of the Prime Minister’s entourage, said there remains a huge potential and they are thinking of ways to increase Bangladesh export to the Middle Eastern countries.  “We have talked to Saudi investors and entrepreneurs to partner with us in trade, business and investment in producing high quality garments,” said the former BGMEA chief.   Saudi Arabia, he said, has agreed to increase import of readymade garments, medicine and some other quality products from Bangladesh to meet its increasing domestic needs.