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Joel Ahmed

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  1. https://www.thedailystar.net/business/global-economy/news/locally-made-jerseys-adorn-fifa-world-cup-3125326 Locally made jerseys to adorn FIFA World Cup Refayet Ullah Mirdha Thu Sep 22, 2022 08:30 AM Last update on: Thu Sep 22, 2022 09:15 AM Bangladesh is increasingly becoming a source not only for replica football shirts worn by fans but also kits used in practice by players of the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) World Cup alongside European clubs. The local knitters also supply jerseys for different sporting clubs globally. For instance, Chattogram-based knitwear manufacturer Sonnet Textile Industries sent 6 lakh shirts for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 to be held between November 20 and December 18. "I shipped the last consignment in April this year…through buyers as I do not export directly to the FIFA," said Gazi Md Shahid Ullah, one of the company's directors. He, however, declined to state the price of each shirt. Shahidullah also said there were bright prospects for sportswear as he shipped $18 million worth of knit products from his factory a year employing 1,800 workers. Similarly, Fazlee Shamim Ehsan, managing director of Narayanganj-based knitwear manufacturer Fatullah Apparels, said he had exported 2.5 lakh shirts for 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. He also sent replica kits for supporters of different countries. This time, Ehsan has not sent any kit for the Qatar world cup. But he regularly sends official jerseys for Real Madrid Basketball in Barcelona as his factory is an officially nominated supplier of the Spanish professional basketball team. Every five months, his factory has been sending a good quantity of jerseys for the club, he said. Currently, he mainly sends jerseys made of cotton of European clubs to his buyers. The price of jerseys made from manmade fibres are higher than those made of cotton, he said. "I also think the future of garment business of Bangladesh is MMF (manmade fibre)-made jerseys and sportswear as the demand for these items has been rising worldwide because of changes in fashion and styles," he said. For instance, many office-going people wear casual dresses like t-shirts, sportwear and lightweight sweaters instead of formal woven dresses made from both cotton and manmade fibres. As a result, the demand and production of the casual dresses from Bangladesh is also increasing worldwide, especially in Europe and the US, he added. Mohammad Hatem, managing director of MB Knit Fashions, another Narayanganj-based knitwear manufacturer, said he had sent 12 lakh shirts of eight countries like Brazil, Argentina and some other European ones for the world cup football in Russia in 2018. In the previous world cup in 2014, Hatem sent 8 lakh jerseys. Hatem said he has not sent any jerseys for the world cup in Qatar so far. Regarding profits from the sale of jerseys, Hatem said buyers do not pay anything extra for these being a special kind of clothing. Recently, the local garment suppliers have been increasing the production of garment items from manmade fibres to gain better prices from international clothing retailers and brands. They are expecting jerseys and sportswear to play a vital role in achieving Bangladesh's target of earning $100 billion from garment exports by 2030. Last fiscal year, garment shipment clocked a 35.47 per cent year-on-year growth, netting $42.61 billion. Of the sum, $23.21 billion came from knitwear shipments, which was up 36.88 per cent. The knitwear items mostly comprised jerseys and sportswear, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau.
  2. Semicolon IT Solutions is developing international and high quality software at Sheikh Hasina Software Technology Park in Jessore. Apart from creating software, the company created by four entrepreneurs is also doing digital marketing work for a startup company in the United States.In August 2019, Semicolon IT Solutions started working on the 12th floor of Sheikh Hasina Software Technology Park in Jessore with a space of 1,300 square feet. The size of the office was increased to 3 thousand 60 square feet within a year due to the increasing demand for work. The company mainly develops customized software and also works on digital marketing. The organization is also providing programming, digital marketing, graphic design and web development training to develop skilled professionals.Within three years of its inception, Semicolon has exported software to Australia, the United States and Saudi Arabia. The software developed by Semicolon is also being used in various public and private institutions. In the meantime, the company has developed software for Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation, Water Development Board, Metrorail Line-5, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation.There are now 25 employees at Semicolon, including 12 women. The group has made $36,000 in profit during the last three years. The organization has improved by around 85% in the three years after the adventure began. A significant accomplishment for the three-year-old business is that Semicolon's software is being used in Saudi Arabia, the US, and Australia beyond national boundaries. https://scontent.ffjr1-5.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t39.30808-6/305408827_201675902213023_3256989152596243722_n.jpg?_nc_cat=100&ccb=1-7&_nc_sid=730e14&_nc_ohc=Ndyb9acxx5gAX8WTlkY&_nc_oc=AQlFDNhI0hpsAJKKXX-6gL-iPZLc-TmEpXJG0wPrO_hvo6yD0Q5W4yD1MVQfV7AMnsevt9N4_Kc7UtJm2s29fhsp&_nc_ht=scontent.ffjr1-5.fna&oh=00_AT8ffKrKCG1DK_44o8GJd5ItVQSJmleKpo28ggW8AlGB9A&oe=632F083A
  3. https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/industry/shaking-covid-lull-bangladesh-steel-industry-eyes-global-foothold-500162 TBS Report 20 September, 2022, 10:55 pm Last modified: 20 September, 2022, 10:58 pm Shaking off Covid lull, Bangladesh steel industry eyes global foothold The Bangladesh steel industry looks to secure a foothold in the global market with the sector beginning to bounce back from pandemic shocks, say industry leaders. Bangladesh's steel industry is worth Tk55,000 crore ($62 million) and the country is globally the second largest destination for scrap ships and one of the largest ferrous scrap consumers with imports touching 4,000,000 tonnes. Its steel melting capacity is expected to reach 13,000,000 tonnes by 2025, speakers said at the 3rd Steel & Raw Material Conference, Emerging Bangladesh, held in Chattogram on Tuesday. BSRM Group Managing Director Aameir Alihussain said that the steel industry has gone through a very difficult time due to the coronavirus pandemic, which led to an overall cost increase, including in freight charges, raw materials and transport. Then came the Russia-Ukraine war, which pushed up energy prices. "Being a populous country, economic activities are always vibrant in Bangladesh, China or the South Asian countries. Yet people's lives are affected by the high prices of food and goods. Demand for steel is slightly down at the moment due to rising prices of everything," he said, adding, "We want to meet the domestic needs of the country and capture the world market. We are moving towards that goal." In the keynote speech, Subhendu Bose, managing director of Singapore's Duferco Asia Pte Ltd, said that between 2017 and 2020 HRC prices ranged between $400 and $600 in Asia. Meanwhile HMS Scrap prices were ranging between $230 and $400. These price bands were maintained by lackluster global growth and stable costs. "In 2021 the old price range was broken by a period of global steel deficit. Post-covid demand recovery was too sharp for steel production to keep up. In 2022 we have seen a new paradigm as demand is receding at most developed economies due to a combination of factors, including high cost of capital and high cost of energy," he added. Local and foreign experts spoke at several sessions at the conference on the current situation and prospects of iron and steel products used in the country and abroad, increase in cost of steel raw materials, crisis and overall situation, quality, current sustainable technology, ship breaking industry, modern marketing policy. Alhaj Sufi Muhammad Mizanur Rahman, chairman of PHP family, inaugurating the conference said, "Steel is the foundation of modern civilisation. The summit will play a positive role in the quality, value creation, and market expansion of the steel industry. All of us should work for the development of this industry." BSRM Group Chairman Alihussain Akberali said, "This conference is very important for the country's steel sector. Steel product exporters from different countries of the world have participated in the conference. There are the top steel manufacturing companies of the country. It creates an easy connection between all the parties. Communicating directly with so many companies around the world would be expensive and difficult for many companies in the country." The industry at present A few days after the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war, which started on 24 February 2022, the steel market saw a significant steel export reduction from the region. The reduction was due to both military action in the case of Ukraine and western sanctions in the case of Russia and Belarus. At present steel prices at all the main markets have stabilised, despite the state of steel consumption worsening due to sharp production cuts globally. "While consumption is going from bad to worse, production cuts have been so big that forecasting market movement in the next weeks is very difficult – the changes are happening too fast and the current supply and demand balance is not clear," said Subhendu Bose. The conference was arranged to explore key issues like the country's steel production and demand outlook, global scrap trade flow changes, especially in a post-Russia-Ukraine war situation, the ship recycling scene, key emerging sectors, price trends and a lot more. Market leaders from 29 countries, including the US, Germany, Belgium, Australia, India, Austria, Taiwan, China and Japan, attended the conference.
  4. https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/trade/deutsche-bank-to-commence-operations-in-bangladesh-soon-1662993834 Deutsche Bank to commence operations in Bangladesh soon Published: September 12, 2022 20:43:54 | Updated: September 14, 2022 17:15:36 Deutsche Bank, a German multinational investment bank and financial services company, is expanding its global network with the launch of its first representative office in Bangladesh. With this new market entry, Deutsche Bank's regional footprint in the Asia Pacific will soon span 15 diverse markets, according to a BSS report that cited a press release issued on Monday. Responding to strong client demand for trade finance support in this fast-growing country, Deutsche Bank will commence operations in Bangladesh shortly. The representative office will focus on supporting multinational corporate clients, predominantly exporters to Bangladesh. The bank has hired Syed Naushad Zaman, previously Deputy Head of the Commerzbank Representative Office in Bangladesh, to lead its business in the country. "We continue to grow and invest in our business in the Asia Pacific," said Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Officer for the Asia Pacific and Member of the Management Board Alexander von Zur Muehlen. "We are proud that in our 150th anniversary in the Asia Pacific, we are welcoming the 15th market to our strong regional network. Bangladesh is a great example of the significant opportunity that we see for our platform in the region. With its fast-growing economy we enter this market to support its increasing participation in regional and global trade," he added. Atul Jain, Deutsche Bank Global Co-Head for Trade Finance and Lending, added, "Bangladesh is an increasingly strategic market for both our global multinational and German corporate clients. This representative office reflects our firm commitment to support our clients' evolving risk management and financing needs in this dynamic growth market." According to the Embassy of Bangladesh, Germany is the largest trading partner of Bangladesh in Europe and the second largest globally. German exports to Bangladesh have tripled in the past 25 years. In 2021 German exports to Bangladesh recorded a 45 per cent increase to $877 million. At almost $400 million, just under half of this was machinery and equipment.
  5. https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/economy/bangladesh/genex-infosys-appointed-for-vat-collection-for-three-years-1663159260 Genex Infosys appointed for VAT collection for three years The firm to install 0.30m VAT collecting machines in Dhaka, Ctg Published: September 14, 2022 18:41:00 Genex Infosys Limited, a leading IT service provider, will provide and install 300,000 VAT collecting machines in Dhaka city and its adjoining areas as well as in Chottagram city in the next three years. Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase (CCGP) at a meeting on Wednesday approved a proposal of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to select Genex Infosys as a vendor to collect value added tax (VAT) on behalf of the government. Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal presided over the virtual meeting while members of the committee attended it, reports UNB. Genex Infosys was selected through an open tender, said the additional secretary of the Cabinet Division Abdul Barik while briefing on the decisions of the committee. He said the Genex as a lowest bidder won the contract in three lots to supply and install Electronic Fiscal Device (EFD) and Sales Data Controller (SDC) or VAT collecting machines at different types of retail shops. Earlier, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave its nod in principle to this decision of NBR on August 31. Barik said the vendor will supply and install the machines at its own cost and in return, it will get 0.52-0.538 per cent of the collected money as a service charge while depositing it to the government. It will also carry out the operation and maintenance work as well, he added. According to NBR officials, it’s not possible for the government to operate so many machines across the country, that’s why service outsourcing is being done. However, installation of EFD machines started two years ago but there is not much speed in its operation.
  6. https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2022/09/13/first-bangladesh-made-oceangoing-ship-exported-to-uk First Bangladesh-made ocean-going ship exported to UK The ship has a 4,130 horsepower engine and can reach speeds of up to 12.5 nautical miles/hour Photo of the oceangoing high-speed, multipurpose container vessel Dhaka Tribune Tribune Report September 13, 2022 3:44 PM Bangladesh has for the first time exported an oceangoing high-speed, multipurpose container vessel to the United Kingdom (UK). Ananda Shipyard and Slipways Ltd handed over the ship to its UK buyer, Enzian Shipping Company Ltd, on Tuesday at an event held at the InterContinental in Dhaka. The 364 feet long, 54 feet wide and 27 feet deep ship has a 4,130 horsepower engine and can reach speeds of up to 12.5 nautical miles/hour. The ship, with a capacity of 6,100 deadweight tonnage, was built entirely in Narayanganj's Meghnaghat. Talking with Dhaka Tribune, Dr Tariqul Islam, executive director of Ananda Group, said: “In 2008 we first exported a ship to Denmark and now we have exported to the UK. It is also the first time that the UK has imported a ship from Bangladesh.” “This vessel can transport any kind of dangerous cargo, except nuclear waste, and it is an ice class vessel that can move smoothly, breaking four feet of ice on the ocean. This ship also can run without a captain’s assistance in its engine room for up to 16 hours,” he added. State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, who attended the handover ceremony as chief guest, said: "Bangladesh today has completed the export of a modern multipurpose container ship to the UK. This is a proud day for us all." “Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the current government attaches great importance to the shipbuilding industry. Therefore, it has become easy to export ships for the private companies of Bangladesh. This sector will play a big role in the economy of Bangladesh soon,” the state minister added.
  7. https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/rmg/apparel-exports-europe-us-may-surge-54b-2030-research-495114 Reyad Hossain 12 September, 2022, 10:40 pm Last modified: 12 September, 2022, 11:55 pm Apparel exports to Europe, US may surge by $54b by 2030: Research A declining trend of China's garment exports on top of the establishment of a strong local backward linkage industry makes the Bangladesh apparel sector nicely poised to increase its annual exports to two key markets – Europe and the US – by $54 billion by 2030, predicts Research and Policy Integration for Development (RAPID). Bangladesh has the potential to boost its apparel exports to the US market to $24 billion and to the European market to $65 billion by next eight years, says the research organisation. It has calculated the potential of garment exports in view of the current trend and statistics of the global apparel market, and the potential capacity of the Bangladesh RMG industry. According to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) estimates, Bangladesh exported garments worth about $43 billion in the fiscal 2021-22, of which exports to Europe accounted for $26 billion. Bangladesh's RMG exports to the US market stood at $9 billion last fiscal year. In other words, Bangladesh's garment exports to these two markets may increase two and a half times in eight years, with an average annual export growth of 12% to Europe and 15% to the US, according to RAPID. The research organisation says that even in the current situation, Bangladesh has the potential to rake in an additional $18 billion annually by exporting readymade garments to Europe, but the country is not being able to tap it. RAPID, however, did not provide detailed information as to why the country is failing to capitalise on its full export potential. Nonetheless, there are also some uncertainties and challenges ahead as Bangladesh is going to lose duty-free export facilities after its graduation from the status of a least developed country (LDC) and other geo-political issues. Dr Mohammad Abdur Razzaque, chairman of RAPID, told The Business Standard that Bangladesh will be able to earn additional $54 billion by exporting apparel every year by 2030 if it can increase focus on non-cotton products, bring in foreign investments, ensure environmental and social governance (ESG), and enhance capacity in logistics including port and customs. "Global political tension and domestic factors will continue to reduce China's share in apparel exports. On the other hand, Bangladesh's strong backward linkage support will play a positive role in achieving this target," he explained. Readymade garments account for over 80% of Bangladesh's total exports and more than 80% of the country's RMG exports are done to the European and US markets. Based on this, the RAPID study showed that the US and European markets remain the main places of hope for Bangladesh in attaining its export growth target. Exports to non-traditional markets are unlikely to grow much, the study said, adding that the country's apparel exports to 16 regions in non-traditional markets totalled a little over $6 billion in the last financial year. The RAPID chairman observed that Bangladesh's RMG exports to the US and Europe may grow to the tune as predicted by his organisation even if the country can retain the last 10 years' average annual growth rate of its garment exports to these markets. According to International Trade Centre (ITC) data, in 10 years before Covid-19, apparel exports to the EU (including the UK) grew at an average annual rate of 15% and it grew at 9% to the USA. The size of US apparel imports currently stands at $87 billion and it has grown at an average rate of 2.8% over the past 10 years. If it grows at a rate of 3% over the next eight years, the size of this market will be $115 billion. On the other hand, Europe's current annual apparel imports (including intra-European countries) are worth $200 billion. The market has grown at an average rate of 2.82% over the past 10 years. If it grows at a rate of 3% over the next eight years, the market size will be $260 billion, where Bangladesh's share could be $65 billion. Recently, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has set a target of raising the country's annual apparel exports to $100 billion by 2030. According to sources, the organisation is working on a roadmap to achieve this target. The trade body may publish this roadmap by the end of this year, they said. Shahidullah Azim, vice president of the BGMEA, told TBS that the BGMEA has set the $100 billion export target considering the overall situation. To attain the target, he emphasised the importance of government policy support, ease of doing business, and infrastructure development in order to increase the export of man-made fibre. But, not all entrepreneurs are confident that Bangladesh can export $100 billion worth of clothing every year by 2030. Fazlul Hoque, managing director of Plummy Fashion, one of the leading knitwear factories in the country, told TBS, "The kind of master plan and activities needed to raise the annual exports to $100 billion in eight years is not there. On the other hand, the global demand will be on the decline because of the Russia-Ukraine war." Another entrepreneur in the garment sector on condition of anonymity said RMG factories in the country do not have the capacity to increase production by two and a half times within the next eight years. There were huge orders last year, he mentioned, adding that the industry could export $42 billion worth of products in the year even after forcing workers to work overtime. "Will it be possible to increase the number of workers at this rate?" he said. But, RAPID Chairman Razzaque said, "Even though there is a need for increasing the production capacity by two and a half times, the demand for workers will not increase at that rate as the use of high-tech machines in factories is on the rise." Bangladesh, Vietnam to benefit most from decline in Chinese exports A review of statistics on apparel imports and exports over the past decade shows that China's share in the big two global apparel markets is on a falling trend, with Bangladesh and Vietnam taking the lion's share of the lost market of China. In 2010, 45% of apparel imports to Europe was from China, which fell to 30% in 2021. At the same time, Bangladesh's share in the market doubled from 10%, while that of Vietnam also grew slightly. China's share in the US apparel import market, on the other hand, has fallen to 20% from 40% over a 10-year period, and most of this lost market of China has been grabbed by Vietnam while Bangladesh's share grew at a slower rate than Vietnam's.
  8. https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrickcai/2022/09/07/stability-ai-funding-round-1-billion-valuation-stable-diffusion-text-to-image/?sh=3bb74a4b24d6 Startup Behind AI Image Generator Stable Diffusion Is In Talks To Raise At A Valuation Up To $1 Billion Kenrick Cai Forbes Staff I cover venture capital and startups from the West Coast. Follow Sep 7, 2022,01:38pm EDT A collage of images made using Stability AI's online tool, which allows users to create AI-generated images by typing in a text prompt: (from left) a portrait of Beyoncé in the style of Vincent van Gogh, a cyberpunk cityscape in the style of Japanese artist Hokusai and a science fiction alien world. STABLE DIFFUSION / KENRICK CAI With the image generator Stable Diffusion, you can conjure within seconds a potrait of Beyoncé as if painted by Vincent van Gogh, a cyberpunk cityscape in the style of 18th century Japanese artist Hokusai and a complex alien world straight out of science fiction. Released to the public just two weeks ago, it’s become one of several popular AI-powered text-to-image generators, including DALL-E 2, that have taken the internet by storm. Now, the company behind Stable Diffusion is in discussions to raise $100 million from investors, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. Investment firm Coatue expressed initial interest in a deal that would value the London-based startup Stability AI at $500 million, according to two of the people. Lightspeed Venture Partners then entered talks — which are still underway — to invest at a valuation up to $1 billion, two sources said. Stability AI, Coatue and Lightspeed declined requests for comment. The London-based startup previously raised at least $10 million in SAFE notes (a form of convertible security popular among early-stage startups) at a valuation of up to $100 million, according to one of the sources. An additional fourth source with direct knowledge confirmed Stability AI’s previous round. Much of the company’s funds came directly from founder and CEO Emad Mostaque, a former hedge fund manager. News of the prior financing was previously unreported. By nature of being open source, Stability AI’s underlying technology is free to use. So far, the company does not have a clear business model in place, according to three of the sources. However, Mostaque said in an interview last month with Yannic Kilcher, a machine learning engineer and YouTube personality, that he has already penned partnerships with “governments and leading institutions” to sell the technology. “We’ve negotiated massive deals so we’d be profitable at the door versus most money-losing big corporations,” he claims. The first version of Stable Diffusion itself cost just $600,000 to train, he wrote on Twitter — a fraction of the company’s total funding. Mostaque, 39, hails from Bangladesh and grew up in England. He received a master’s degree in mathematics and computer science from Oxford University in 2005 and spent 13 years working at U.K. hedge funds. In 2019, he launched Symmitree, a startup that aimed to reduce the cost of technology for people in poverty; it shuttered after one year, according to his LinkedIn profile. He then founded Stability AI in late 2020 with the mission of building open-source AI projects. According to its website, text-to-image generation is only one component of a broader apparatus of AI-powered offerings that the company is helping to build. Other open-source research groups it backs are developing tools for language, audio and biology. “We’ve negotiated massive deals so we’d be profitable at the door versus most money-losing big corporations.” Emad Mostaque, Stability AI founder and CEO Stable Diffusion — created in collaboration with RunwayML, a video editing startup also backed by Coatue, and researchers at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich — has generated by far the most buzz among the company’s projects. It comes as AI image generators entered the zeitgeist this year, with the release of OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 in April and independent research lab Midjourney’s eponymous product in July. Google also revealed a text-to-image system, Imagen, in May, though it is not available to the public. Mostaque and his peers have said that the existing technology only represents the tip of the iceberg of what AI art is capable of creating: Future use cases could include drastically improved photorealism, video and animation. These image generators are already facing controversy: Many of them have been trained by processing billions of images on the internet without the consent of the copyright holder, prompting debate over ethics and legality. Last week, a testy debate broke out online after a Colorado fine arts competition awarded a top prize to an AI-generated work of art. Moreover, unlike DALL-E and Midjourney, which have restrictions in place to prevent the generation of gory or pornographic images, Stable Diffusion’s open source nature allows users to bypass such a block. On 4chan, numerous threads have appeared with AI-generated deepfakes of celebrity nudes, while Reddit has banned at least four communities that were dedicated to posting “not safe for work” AI imagery made using Stable Diffusion. It’s a double-edged sword for Stability AI, which has accumulated community goodwill precisely due to its open source approach that gives its users full access to its code. The company’s website states that the company is “building open AI tools,” a mission that mirrors the initial intent of OpenAI to democratize access to artificial intelligence. OpenAI was launched as a nonprofit research organization by prominent technologists including Sam Altman and Elon Musk, but upon accepting a $1 billion investment from Microsoft in 2019, it became a for-profit business. The move led it to focus on commercializing its technology rather than making it more widely available, drawing criticism from the AI community — and Musk himself. Stability AI has been a for-profit corporation from its inception, which Mostaque has said is meant to allow the open source research to reach more people. In an interview with TechCrunch last month, he said that the company was fully independent. “Nobody has any voting rights except our 75 employees — no billionaires, big funds, governments or anyone else with control of the company or the communities we support,” he said. At a $1 billion valuation, Mostaque would be ceding up to 10% of the company to the new financiers. Venture capital investors who take significant stakes in startups typically ask for board positions so they can influence the decisions the company is making using their money. Lightspeed, which manages $10 billion of assets, and Coatue, which is in charge of $73 billion, both have a track record of taking board seats, though it’s unclear if that will be the case with Stability AI.
  9. https://www.tbsnews.net/markets/tea-prices-tk30-kg-peak-season-493874 Omar Faruque 10 September, 2022, 10:55 pm Last modified: 10 September, 2022, 10:57 pm Tea prices up by Tk30 a kg in peak season A surge in demand for tea in the market has triggered the recent price hike, according to sector insiders Prices of tea usually slide in the country's markets in June-October, during the peak season of production, but this year the prices have gone up. According to industry insiders, tea prices have increased by Tk30-40 per kg in the last two weeks in the auction and market levels as leaves picking in the country's tea gardens remained closed for three consecutive weeks last month due to workers' movement demanding higher wages. The average price of tea in the 17th auction held in Chattogram on 5 September was over Tk220 per kg. In the previous auction on 29 August, the average price was Tk210. In the previous 10th to 15th auctions, the prices ranged between Tk190 and TK200, said auction sources. Around 25.54 lakh kg of tea was brought for sale in the 17th auction, which was 5.15 lakh kg less than the auction a year earlier. Broker houses said a lower amount of tea will be available for sale in the next auctions too. Earlier, on average, around 60%-65% of tea brought at the auction was sold usually but around 80%-85% of tea has been sold in recent auctions. This surge in demand for tea in the market has triggered the recent price hike, according to wholesalers and retailers. The prices of coarse tea in different gardens of the country, including in Panchagarh, have increased by Tk20 per kg. On the other hand, the prices of other varieties of tea, including clone tea, have increased by around Tk40 per kg. Mohammad Yusuf, former vice-president of the Tea Traders Association of Bangladesh, told The Business Standard (TBS), "If the supply decreases against the demand, the price will naturally be affected. Although tea production in the country has increased every year, it is still low compared to the population. Besides, the recent strike has disrupted production. Low rainfall this season has also affected tea production." According to sources at the auction, the companies announced to supply more tea than the previous auctions in the peak season this year which they could not deliver. The quality was also comparatively lower. Moreover, buyers have shown more interest in procuring good quality tea from the recent auctions anticipating that the impacts of the labour strike may last longer. Tea garden owners said that tea leaves with a size of three inches are best for producing quality tea. The leaves are plucked every seven to 10 days. But no leaves were plucked in the gardens for three weeks during the labour protest, leaving the leaves to grow up to six to 15 inches. As a result, the quality of these leaves declined. Md Karim, the owner of Planters Brokers, said that the supply of tea in the market is normal for now and the average price of tea has increased slightly in the last few auctions. The recent labour movement may have an impact here. He also said the garden owners are not being benefitted from this price hike as much as the retail and wholesale dealers. "There can be some hoarding issues involved here," he mentioned. Traders said more than 95% of the country's total tea is sold in the auction in Chattogram. In the last few auctions, 85%-90% of the tea has been bought by the buying houses. That is, only 10%-15% of the tea has been returned from the auctions. Buyers are racing to increase their procurement due to fear of a further reduction in tea supply in the upcoming auctions, they said. Md Abdur Rahman, the owner of Pabna Tea House in Chattogram, said, "The best quality tea is supplied from the garden in the middle of the year. But in the last two auctions, the price of tea has gone up. The price of good clone tea has increased the most." Tea garden workers in the country carried out a strike in their workplaces demanding higher daily wages for 19 days from 9 August. On 28 August, they returned to work after the prime minister fixed their daily wages to Tk170.
  10. https://today.thefinancialexpress.com.bd/first-page/do-sufficient-homework-to-make-policies-suitable-1662828228 Regional trade cooperation Do sufficient homework to make policies suitable Economists suggest at a book launching ceremony FE Report | September 11, 2022 00:00:00 Economists at a function on Saturday stressed the need for doing sufficient homework to make the country's trade policies and strategies suitable for regional cooperation agreements. Regional trade among the South Asian countries is only 5.0 per cent as compared to 25 per cent in (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) ASEAN countries and 50-60 per cent in European Union countries, they said. The trade cost between Bangladesh and Nepal is higher than that of Bangladesh-Brazil, Professor Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow of the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD), pointed out at a book launching ceremony in the capital. "ASEAN countries are bypassing us as we are not doing our homework to identify the barriers," he added. Dr Selim Raihan, Executive Director of South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM), termed South Asia a less-integrated region and said, "Our internal policies and strategies are not favourable yet for regional cooperation agreements." He also said that the exporters of Bangladesh were raising allegations of non-tariff barriers in India. Dr Md Neyamul Islam, First Secretary of Customs wing under the National Board of Revenue (NBR), authored the book titled 'The Understanding of Free Trade Agreements" which was published by the University Press Limited. Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University Md Akhrauzzaman was chief guest at the programme. International Trade Expert Nesar Ahmed, Director General of Department of Film and Publication under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting S. M. Golam Kibria, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Finance Md Abu Yousuf, among others, spoke at the programme. Dr Mustafizur Rahman said the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) and SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Area) have dispute settlement clauses, but have never been used. "We have to look at SAFTA and beyond. Now, the world is not limited to only SAARC countries," he said. He also pointed out that the country could not utilise the Indian Line of Credit (LoC). The economists laid emphasis on focusing on the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement, BIMSTEC, and Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) to enhance regional trade. Mr Nesar Ahmed said that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) would not erode customs revenue collection as study proves that the overall trade volume would increase. He said SAFTA has offered concessionary duty benefits for import of a number of products, so it should not be considered dead. The DU VC has appreciated the theme of the book as it is a time-befitting one. Mr Abu Yousuf said the preferential tariff may not continue after the country's graduation from the Least Developed Country (LDC) status in 2026. "Traditional SAFTA would not work. CEPA and RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) are new generation agreements that can be added to this book as another chapter," he added. [email protected]
  11. https://www.tbsnews.net/bangladesh/migration/fiji-hire-more-workers-bangladesh-493942 Kamran Siddiqui 11 September, 2022, 09:45 am Last modified: 11 September, 2022, 09:49 am Fiji to hire more workers from Bangladesh Highlights: Demand mainly in construction sector Bangladesh expects to send minimum 1,000 workers each year Salary to range from Tk40,000 to Tk45,000 Around 3,500 Bangladeshis are currently working in Fiji Majority of them work in garment factories, restaurants, hospitals, construction sector and agriculture Fiji wants to hire more workers from Bangladesh, mainly in the construction sector,as the pacific island country is suffering from a shortage of labour to cope with the post-Covid development activities. "Our construction companies have been making applications to bring in workers from Bangladesh as there is a major shortage of skilled manpower in this sector," said Fiji's Attorney General and Minister for Economy AiyazSayed-Khaiyum during the recent joint forum of Australia-Fiji Business Councils. The attorney general said there is a huge shortage of workers in fields such as brick and tile layers, reported Fijivillage on 5 September. According to an unofficial estimate, around 3,500 Bangladeshis live in different cities and the countryside of Fiji. A majority of them work in garment factories, restaurants, hospitals, the construction sector, agriculture and other service sectors. At present, Bangladesh does not have an embassy in Fiji. Bangladesh's High Commission in Australia looks after the well-being of workers in Fiji. "The demand for workers has increased in Fiji. People are coming here legally through private agencies with the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) cards from Bangladesh," MdSalahuddin, counsellor (labour) and the first secretary of the Bangladesh embassy in Australia, told TBS. "We expect to employ 1,000 people in Fiji each year with salaries ranging from Tk40,000 to Tk45,000," he added. Apart from recruitment through private agencies, Bangladesh Overseas Employment and Services Limited under the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment issued a job circular on 7 September to employ six male employees in Fiji for various posts including A/C technician, financial controller and construction foreman. The population of Fiji is 0.9 million, with a $5,589 per capita GDP, according to World Bank data in 2017. Tourism is Fiji's main revenue source, contributing about 38% of the country's GDP, according to the International Finance Corporation. The sector supports 1,18,000 jobs and channels spending into local supply chains including agriculture, building and construction, cultural industries, and more. However, the textiles and apparel industry has been identified as a potential sector for Bangladeshi businesses to invest in Fiji, according to the Bangladesh High Commission in Australia. Other potential sectors include pharmaceutical, information and communication technology. The export volume from Bangladesh to Fiji was $2.64 million in the 2020-21 fiscal year. The major export items are apparel and knit, pharmaceutical products, carpets and other textile floor covering, footwear, ceramic products, articles of iron and steel, toys and games etc. Fiji commends Bangladesh nationals The Fiji government has commended the efforts of Bangladesh nationals who have contributed to the recovery of the Fijian economy, reports FBC News based in Fiji. While speaking during the establishment of the Bangladesh Fiji Association committee recently, Defence Minister of Fiji IniaBatikotoSeruiratu urged Bangladeshi workers to avoid giving their travel documents to their employers in Fiji. While speaking with some of the Bangladeshi nationals, he found out that their passports were taken by their employers as soon as they arrived in the country. "If such incidents are happening, please do let the authorities know because we want you to enjoy Fiji. You are contributing a lot," he added. Mohammad Sufiur Rahman, high commissioner for Bangladesh to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, urged all Bangladeshis working in Fiji to have the proper and relevant documentation.
  12. https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/economy/bangladesh/dhaka-cautiously-weighs-export-revenue-losses-1662777558 Dhaka cautiously weighs export, revenue losses Look before you leap into vast bloc RCEP: Experts REZAUL KARIM | Published: September 10, 2022 08:39:18 | Updated: September 10, 2022 13:38:01 Experts have cautioned that Bangladesh's exports might shrink and industries suffer setbacks if the country joins a new free-trading bloc called RCEP, unless its privileged market access is secured. A recent high-profile meeting was told that the exports to many of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) countries could fall in the range between 9.0 per cent and 31 per cent unless preferential market-access facilities are available during post-graduation era. These countries and probable export losses are: Japan 30.53 per cent, South Korea 27.53, New Zealand 11 per cent, Australia 11 per cent, Thailand 8.93 per cent and China 8.29 per cent, according to sources. Keeping this prospect in view, the meeting suggested assessment of all possible aspects and challenges before joining in the vast economic bloc. The Ministry of Commerce convened the meeting, as part of doing homework ahead of negotiations, to review possible benefits and risks of joining the China-backed economic grouping-the latest of a numerous blocs proposed or in the making in the region and beyond lately. Besides, a good number of country's industrial units may be hurt, save apparel, beverages and tobacco, according to the views elicited from the meeting. However, investment volume will increase, by an estimated 3.36 per cent, and that might create a positive impact on bilateral trade with RCEP member-nations as it is a Mega Regional Trade Agreement (RTA). Before accession into the RCEP, Bangladesh has decided to further review the possibilities and challenges in terms of industrial capacity, overall revenue risk, investment potential, service sector, regional value chain and e-commerce, according to the meeting minutes. It has also decided to take political guidance regarding the initiation of the accession process of Bangladesh into the world's largest alliance. Bangladesh has decided to look into the inclusion process of Hong Kong and Macau into RCEP as they have applied recently for joining it. The meeting discussed the necessity of a study on what will be the market access of Bangladeshi potential products and how much investment may come into Bangladesh from the RCEP countries. The RCEP, which came into being in January 2022, is a free-trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the others. The ASEAN members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam and its five FTA partners are Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea. Being the world's largest free-trade turf, the 15 RCEP-participating countries account for almost half the world population and contribute about 30 per cent to global GDP and over a quarter to world exports. A recent Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTTC) study mentioned that the Asia-Pacific bloc represents 2.3 billion inhabitants, contributes US$25.8 trillion or about 30 per cent of global GDP, and accounts for $12.7 trillion or over a quarter of global trade in goods and services, and 31 per cent of global foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows. The volume of export of Bangladeshi goods in the area stood at $3.9 billion and imported goods worth $24.5 billion in the fiscal year (FY) 2020-21. On the other hand, at the same time, the volume of services export was $1.8 billion and import worth $2.6 billion in the same period. Bangladesh currently gets preferential market facility in many of the RCEP countries in the form of preferential trade agreement (PTA) or GSP facilities. Many developed countries would not provide duty-free facilities to Bangladesh after its graduation from the LDC status in 2026 and get exposed to open competition in its external trade after 2029. The study mentions RCEP includes some of the major export destinations as well as major import sources of Bangladesh. Considering the bilateral-trade scenario, RCEP remains more as an important partner from the Bangladesh perspective. Imports from RCEP contribute around 43.92 per cent of the total global imports of Bangladesh, 55.33 per cent of the total tax revenue and 58.56 per cent of total revenue from customs duty collected under home consumption, as of FY 2020-21. Since some major import sources of Bangladesh, like China, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia, are involved with RCEP, there is a threat of losing certain amount of revenue from these countries. More than 68 per cent of total merchandise exports to RCEP are under apparel-product category. Top twenty export items to RCEP mostly consist of apparel products and these twenty products constitute 64 per cent of total export items. It says the probable increase in import along with a comparatively protective regime of Bangladesh estimated a probable high revenue loss for Bangladesh compared to that of the RCEP. "We are working on RCEP-joining issue--it will take time to start negotiation," a senior official of the commerce ministry said. Echoing the same tone imminent economist Prof Mustafizur Rahman says the government should conduct study on the pros and cons prior to joining the RCEP. "Since various issues, including investment, services, trade and communications etc are related with the joining of such bloc, a thorough study is necessary to this effect," adds Prof Rahman, distinguished fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD). He noted that Bangladesh would be enjoying preferential market access to various countries for certain time after its LDC graduation. "So if we join the bloc immediately, it might narrow down such opportunities."
  13. https://www.thedailystar.net/environment/natural-resources/energy/news/sylhet-gas-fields-ltd-eyes-7-times-more-production-2025-3115961 Sylhet Gas Fields Ltd eyes 7 times more production by 2025 Star Digital Report Sat Sep 10, 2022 07:20 PM Last update on: Sat Sep 10, 2022 07:29 PM To face the increasing demand of gas, Sylhet Gas Fields Limited (SGFL) is working with an aim to increase gas production by 7 times by the end of 2025. With the help of Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company (BAPEX), SGFL set a target to produce 618 million cubic feet of gas per day by the deadline from the current 91 million cubic feet of gas production per day, reports our Sylhet correspondent. To fulfil the purpose, three-dimensional seismic survey for explore new gas reserves, digging of new wells and workover of abandoned wells have been started, said SGFL Managing Director Md Mijanur Rahman. As part of the progress, the workover of Beanibazar-1 well was inaugurated yesterday (Saturday) at Sylhet's Beanibazar Upazila under the supervision of BAPEX. Earlier, the workover of Sylhet-8 and Kailashtila-7 wells under the same project were completed. While talking to The Daily Star, Md Mijanur Rahman said, "The Beanibazar-1 well was closed in 2016 after producing 35 billion cubic feet of gas from a depth of 3450m out of 4100m deep well. After removing old pipe, we will interpret the log to confirm presence of the gas and then extraction will be resumed." "The workover is scheduled to be completed by next December, we are hopeful to produce 7-10 million cubic feet of gas per day. In addition, more than 90 barrels of condensate will be produced daily from this well," he said. Sylhet Gas Fields Limited is currently producing 91 million cubic feet of gas per day and supplying it to the national grid. Mijanur Rahman said, "The projects undertaken by SGFL under the patronage of the energy minister, the secretary, and Petrobangla chairman will increase the gas production notably amid the global crisis." By 2023, another 83 million cubic feet of gas per day in additional to existing 91 million cubic feet of gas per day will be channelled to the national grid by drilling two new wells -- Kailashtila-8 and Sylhet-10, workover of four wells and new pipeline of a well in Rashidpur, he said. He also said that the production will be increased to 255 million cubic feet by the end of 2024 by drilling a total of six new wells and workover of seven abandoned wells. "SGFL and BAPEX have agreed to increase the gas production to 618 million cubic feet per day by the end of 2025 and a total of 46 wells will be operation by the time," he added.
  14. https://www.tbsnews.net/bangladesh/energy/industries-invest-big-time-solar-combat-energy-crunch-493294 Reyad Hossain 09 September, 2022, 11:10 pm Last modified: 09 September, 2022, 11:14 pm Industries invest big time in solar to combat energy crunch Amid a power supply crunch triggered by severe energy shortages and a fear that power tariff may go further up in coming days, industries in Bangladesh are increasingly turning to solar plants to meet a part of their electricity needs. Some entrepreneurs are also installing sophisticated energy-efficient equipment to reduce power consumption. They are trying to cope with the situation by installing boilers that work even at low gas pressure. Entrepreneurs have told The Business Standard that they do not see a long-term solution to the energy and power crisis. Electricity bills will keep increasing steadily, coming close to the cost of self-managed power generation, they mentioned, adding that global buyers of Bangladeshi apparels are also asking Bangladeshi suppliers for a long-term plan on green energy as there is a pressure on them to reduce the use of electricity generated using fossil fuels such as gas and coal in the production process in the supply chain. On the other hand, reliance on diesel has increased for the time being to tackle the current crisis, which is driving up the cost of production. Factories in some areas of the country including Narayanganj, a hub of knit fabric production, are forced to run diesel generators due to severe gas shortages. Although they have to pay the gas bill, they are forced to spend crores of taka every month for using diesel also. This is the backdrop against which some industries are switching to solar plants opting to generate part of their electricity needs, entrepreneurs told TBS. Rising Group, one of the largest garment and textile mills in the country, has recently installed rooftop solar power plants on its two factories in Manikganj and Gazipur with an investment of $2 million. The plant in Manikganj has a capacity to produce 3MW electricity while that in Gazipur has a daily production capacity of 1MW. Mahmud Hasan Khan Babu, managing director of Rising Group, said, "We think the crisis of gas-based electricity will remain in the long run. Fuel prices are also uncertain. From the experience of the past few years, we may assume that power tariffs will continue to rise." So, the Riging Group factories are trying to meet some of their electricity needs through solar panels as what Mahmud said "part of long-term preparations". "This is also a part of the Sustainable Green Energy Initiative," he added. The group's two solar plants having a lifespan of 25 years will produce 5,282MW of electricity annually, he told TBS, adding this will reduce carbon dioxide (CO²) emissions by 63,751 tonnes and save an estimated 4,71,759 barrels of crude oil. Rising Group has also taken up a new initiative to expand its existing solar power generation capacity by installing a 3.6MW plant in its factory in Manikganj, which will reduce CO² emissions by around 55,000 tonnes and save over 4 lakh barrels of crude oil in its lifetime. At least four industry owners have told TBS that they have plans to install solar plants as part of long-term preparations to tackle possible future energy crises. Zaber & Zubair Fabrics Ltd, a sister concern of Noman Group, one of the top textile manufacturers in Bangladesh, already has a 400KW solar plant. A new solar plant with 1MW capacity is under construction. Many other companies of Noman Group are following suit. Fakir Fashions Ltd of Narayanganj has started the installation of a 2MW solar plant. Gazipur-based Mosharaf Composite Textile Mills Limited is checking the feasibility of installing a solar plant, its Managing Director Md Mosharaf Hossain told TBS. Some entrepreneurs in the knitwear sector also are said to be treading this path. On the other hand, some industries are trying to deal with the current situation by installing new machinery that is more energy efficient, consumes less electricity or can keep the factory running even with low gas pressure. Nonetheless, renewable energy sources, even more so solar power, still accounts for less than 1% of the total electricity generation in the country. Alamgir Morshed, executive director and CEO of Infrastructure Development Company Limited (Idcol), recently said in a discussion that the country has the potential to generate more than 4,000MW of electricity with rooftop solar plants. Industrialists, however, have said renewables may be of some benefit to factories that require relatively less gas or electricity, but they cannot substitute gas. Use of energy-efficient machines on rise Fazlee Shamim Ehsan, managing director of Fatullah Fashion Ltd, told TBS that the permissible gas pressure in his factory is 10 pounds per square inch (psi), but it often drops below 2 psi. The factory has four boilers. Recently, they have replaced one of the boilers and the new one can operate at 2 psi pressure. Ehsan said he is going to replace the remaining three old boilers as well. Other factory owners are also trying to change their machineries in this way, he added. Little Star Spinning Mills Limited in Savar also has replaced some of its old machinery with new ones, resulting in a reduction in power consumption by 18-20%. Md Khorshed Alam, chairman of the company, told TBS that since they have achieved success by setting up new technology machinery on an experimental basis, they are now mulling installation of such equipment on a larger scale. Challenges are there Entrepreneurs have, however, told TBS that there are some challenges in installing solar plants on their own initiatives or using new technology and machinery to reduce power consumption. A hefty amount of initial investment is required for the installation of a solar plant and the maintenance cost is high as well, which is difficult for many entrepreneurs to afford. Again, this requires a lot of open space, which is not possible for all factories. Moreover, the amount of electricity obtained from such plants is not much because they depend only on sunlight. Apart from this, while the cost per unit of gas-based power generation is Tk5-6, the production cost of one unit of solar power is around Tk9, industry insiders said. On the other hand, it is not an easy solution for everyone in the current situation, because it takes at least six months to complete a solar plant project. Increased diesel use raises cost burden The government's rationing of gas and electricity as part of austerity measures has led to a reduced supply of these utilities in the industrial areas of the country. Amid frequent power outages and reduced gas pressure, the cost of using diesel as an alternative system for power generation has increased for entrepreneurs. Industrialists said currently there is a severe shortage of gas in Narayanganj. Besides, some areas of Savar, Gazipur, and Manikganj are also experiencing reduced gas supply. Fazlul Hoque, managing director of Plummy Fashions Limited, a Narayanganj-based knit garment factory, told TBS, the company is having to bear an additional expenditure of Tk25-30 lakh on diesel every month. The additional cost of Fatullah Dyeing is about Tk2.25 crore per month. Other factory owners also have reported a similar rise in expenses for the same reason. A knitwear factory owner told TBS that the additional expenditure on diesel alone is raising the production cost of a T-shirt by $0.4. If this continues for long, factories will face financial losses, making it difficult for them to repay bank loans, he feared.
  15. https://www.thedailystar.net/business/economy/news/goods-transit-thru-india-holds-great-prospects-3114991 Goods transit thru India holds great prospects The neighbour’s offer is expected to boost Bangladesh’s export Refayet Ullah Mirdha Fri Sep 9, 2022 08:10 AM Last update on: Fri Sep 9, 2022 08:12 AM India's offer of free transit will expand the regional and sub-regional market for Bangladesh's exporters since it would allow them to ship goods to countries such as Nepal and Bhutan, said officials, economists and businessmen. New Delhi has offered the free movement of goods facility via its territory during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to the neighbouring country, according to the joint statement issued on September 7. This means Bangladesh can export products to third countries such as Nepal and Bhutan through specific land customs stations, airports, and seaports of India. If the facility is implemented properly, the pressure on Chattogram, which handles more than 90 per cent of Bangladesh's seaborne trade, will also lessen to a large extent. The transit facility will also create scope for exporters to diversify markets and products, vital for Bangladesh as it is set to lose duty benefits in export destinations following the country's graduation to a developing nation in 2026. "Bangladesh will gain a lot from the offer if it can be implemented properly," said Selim Raihan, executive director of the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling, a research firm. "If exporters can carry goods to an Indian land port, seaport or airport in order to ship them to a third country, they will be able to save time and costs since Chattogram port is often congested and expensive. It will also reduce the pressure on the ports in Bangladesh." Md Saiful Islam, president of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, suggested Bangladesh accept the offer as it would directly open up new markets like Nepal and Bhutan. "Moreover, Bangladesh will be able to send goods easily to Myanmar in the future. Our exports will receive a boost if the transit facility can be used." The move will also increase people-to-people contact, which will translate into greater connectivity, trade and business, the entrepreneur added. Mohammad Hatem, executive president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, thinks the transit facility will give greater market access not only to garment items, but also to other goods. "Nepal and Bhutan will be the direct market for Bangladeshi goods such as garments, cement, and food items. It will help expand our export basket." Currently, Bangladesh can't send goods directly to Nepal and Bhutan through India. Now, Bangladeshi trucks and covered vans carry goods up to the land ports concerned. Nepalese or Bhutanese trucks then carry the them to their countries using India as both landlocked countries have land transit agreements with their bigger neighbour. In the absence of direct routes, Bangladesh's exports to both Nepal and Bhutan have been negligible. The shipment to Bhutan was $10 million in the fiscal year that ended in June, up from $7 million a year ago, data from the Export Promotion Bureau showed. Exports fetched $106 million from Nepal, up from $69 million in the fiscal year of 2020-21. Mahbubul Haque, additional secretary of the free trade agreement wing of the commerce ministry, also admits that the transit facility would bring positive benefits to Bangladesh. "But the offer has to be analysed by the government as many issues are involved." The Indian offer is, however, nothing new since it has been stated in the documents of the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal Motor Vehicle Agreement. The pact is yet to be finalised as the Bhutanese parliament has expressed reservations, while Nepal is also showing apathy in signing the deal, said Raihan, a professor of the Department of Economics at the University of Dhaka. The economist thinks if two members of the BBIN agree on the free movement of vehicles, other members will also feel encouraged in activating the deal for greater regional trade. Bangladesh already allows the transshipment of goods from India's mainland to its northeastern states. Recently, the trial runs for the transshipment of containers from the neighbouring country took place using Mongla and Chattogram ports. Turning India's offer into reality will not be without challenges. "A lot of coordination and cooperation is required among the ministries, the tax administration, and many other government agencies," Prof Raihan said. Dhaka has already requested rail connectivity with Bhutan through the newly inaugurated Chilahati-Haldibari route. New Delhi has agreed to consider the request. In order to make the route and cross-border rail links viable, India has urged Bangladesh to remove port restrictions, the joint statement also said.
  16. https://www.tbsnews.net/world/south-asia/two-special-economic-zones-making-india-492906 Jahir Rayhan 09 September, 2022, 10:40 am Last modified: 09 September, 2022, 10:47 am Two special economic zones in the making for India Bangladesh also assigned dedicated economic zones to Japan and China A 900-acre special economic zone for Indian companies in Chattogam's Mirsharai is in the making, with large financial contributions – Tk915 crore of the total project cost of Tk965 crore – coming from the friendly neighbouring country. Apart from this one, the government has started developing another special economic zone for India in Bagerhat's Mongla on 110 acres of land. Bangladesh also awarded dedicated economic zones to Japan and China. Built under an agreement between the governments of Bangladesh and India in 2015, the economic zone in the Mirsharai part of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar is expected to be ready within the next one and half years, officials said. "The place is now low-lying and needs to be filled with soil. We are currently working to float a tender for the land development. Hopefully, the tender will be issued within one or two months and the work will start early next year," Md Mokhlesur Rahman, project director for the establishment of the Indian EZ in Mirsarai, told The Business Standard (TBS). "We, however, are yet to decide how many industrial plots will be there. We are working on that and designing is in progress," he, also a joint secretary of the Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority, added. The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council approved the 900-acre Indian economic zone project in April 2019 and set 30 June 2023 as its deadline. Later, the authorities – Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority or Beza – signed an agreement with India's largest integrated ports and logistics company Adani Ports and SEZ Limited on 1 April this year to develop the economic zone. Beza also appointed a project management consultant from India – Mahindra Consulting Engineers Limited – for design and overall supervision. The Tk965-crore project is one of the key economic zones in the country's largest industrial city, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar, which sits on a large area of 30,000 acres straddling two upazilas – Mirsharai of Chattogram and Sonagazi of Feni. Of the total estimated costs, Bangladesh will finance Tk50.26 crore, and the rest is coming from India as a soft loan under India's line of credit facility. Land development, construction of access roads, administrative buildings, security sheds, water supply and sanitation systems, telecommunication, water treatment plant, and other facilities will be ensured under the project. Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Vikram K Doraiswami, in the agreement signing programme with Mahindra Consulting at the Beza office, said over 350 Indian companies are now registered in Bangladesh. "If this economic zone is established, Indian investment in Bangladesh will increase further." They can invest in the automobile industry, food processing and logistics services in Bangladesh, he added. At the same event, Beza Executive Chairman, Sheikh Yusuf Harun, said, "Mahindra Engineering Consultant has experience in establishing large economic zones in India. We want to establish an international standard Indian EZ by tapping its experience and technical knowledge". In search of developer for Mongla SEZ Under the 2015 agreement with the Indian government, Beza allocated 110 acres of land close to Mongla Port in Bagerhat to develop another special economic zone (SEZ) for India. It is now negotiating with Mumbai-based Hiranandani Group to appoint the company as the developer for the zone, officials familiar with the matter have told TBS. Meanwhile, the Indian government has agreed to provide $88 million in financing for it, they added. Indian portfolios in other economic zones Various Indian firms have already invested in other economic zones of Bangladesh. Of them, Asian Paints Ltd invested $26m, Ramky Enviro Pty Ltd $10m, and Marico Bangladesh Ltd $26.72m, in the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar, while Sakata Inx Private Limited invested $2.13m in the Meghna Industrial Economic Zone. All the companies, except Marico, are currently in production. "Entrepreneurs from India are keen to invest in Bangladesh. At a meeting in Rajasthan's Jaipur on 23 August, business leaders from the Confederation of India agreed to invest more than Tk800 crore in joint ventures with us," said India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry President, Abdul Matlub Ahmad. They will put their money in three-wheeler manufacturing, mustard oil production, the marble and granite cutting and polishing industry, silver and gold handmade products, and tourism, he told TBS. "Besides, with the soaring demand for man-made fibre clothing all over the world, some Indian investors want to set up factories in Bangladesh. They will produce and export products." Apart from the under-construction economic zones, they are also looking for other economic zones, Abdul Matlub Ahmad said. The Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority is working toward establishing 100 economic zones across the country by 2030. Investors can avail tax holidays, duty-free import of raw materials and machinery, exemption from dividend tax, VAT-free electricity, gas and water, and other fiscal facilities in the zones. Apart from the economic zones, India has invested in other places too. According to Bangladesh Bank data, Bangladesh has so far received a great amount of foreign direct investment from Indian companies in a wide range of fields such as gas and petroleum, textiles and clothing, banking, power, food, trading, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, construction, agriculture and fishing, leather and leather products, insurance, and metal and machinery products.
  17. https://www.thedailystar.net/tech-startup/news/team-bangladesh-becomes-finalist-world-robotics-championship-2022-3114841 Spotlight Team from Bangladesh becomes finalist at World Robotics Championship 2022 Ahmad Tousif Jami Fri Sep 9, 2022 12:09 AM Last update on: Fri Sep 9, 2022 12:16 AM Team Atlas from Bangladesh reached the finals and ranked 4th at the World Robotics Championship 2022, one of the largest robotics competitions in the world, with more than 300 teams participating worldwide. The World Robotics Championship is an annual global robotics competition organised by Technoxian with the help of All India Council For Robotics & Automation (AICRA) and the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology of the Government of India. It aims to stimulate and increase young people's interest in science and technology by involving them in engaging project-based learning sessions with professionals, providing a cross-border networking platform for knowledge and experience sharing, and providing opportunities to compete to recognize their achievements. After a two-year gap because of the pandemic, the competition was held in New Delhi, India, from August 21-24, 2022. This year, more than 18 countries and 300 teams participated from across the globe. The event consisted of nine tracks, one of which was the 'WRC Fastest Line Follower' challenge. Team Atlas ranked 4th in the world in that track. The 'WRC Fastest Line Follower' challenge includes constructing an autonomous robot within the prescribed dimensions to obtain the top speed necessary and outpace other robots on the provided track in the shortest amount of time. Any element of the robot that crosses the finishing line during a full lap of the course counts as having crossed it, hence the robot must begin behind the starting point. This year's team consisted of Bangladeshi university, college and school students Sunny Jubayer, Mir Tanzid Ahmed, Mir Sazid Hassan, Mahtab Newaz, Sifat Tonmoy, Kazi Md. Muhaimin-Ul-Islam Mahi, S.M. Towfiqunnobi, Waliul Islam Nohan, Md. Fahim Shahriar, Md. Tamzid Mahmud Talib, Reza Abdullah, Md. Adham Wahid and Mir Sadia Afrin. It is worth noting that this is the second time Team Atlas has participated in the championship. In 2019, when they first attended, they ranked 13th internationally. Mir Tanzid Ahmed, Administrator of Team Atlas, said, "We worked hard even within the challenges of the pandemic, we spent countless hours in the lab working on research and development of our robots." He added, "Our hard work was inspired by our motivation to represent Bangladesh better than last time and to at least make it to the top five in our next attempt." Since 2016, the robotics-based squad Team Atlas has been engaged in various endeavours. The team has created a variety of mechanical projects, ranging from Mars rovers to submerged machines, including Farmover (a farming robot), BrainBot (an artificial intelligence-based robot for research work), Atlas - UV1 (an autonomous underwater robot for research underwater), Alpha 21 (a fire rescue robot for use in the fire area) and Fire Defender Robot. Team Atlas is currently a team of over 50 individuals working on different projects. They have previously reached the finals of other prestigious global competitions such as the Singapore Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Challenge 2019, along with holding many national-level championship titles in their repository. "We will continue to work hard, develop and participate in other major global competitions so that we can bring more glory to Bangladesh," says Sunny Jubayer, Team Leader of Team Atlas. "We are preparing our best to win the World Robotics Championship next year among other titles," he adds.
  18. https://bangla.thedailystar.net/news/bangladesh/news-391456 এলিভেটেড এক্সপ্রেসওয়ের জন্য ৭৪টি দোকান উচ্ছেদ করল চউক নিজস্ব প্রতিবেদক, চট্টগ্রাম বৃহস্পতিবার, সেপ্টেম্বর ৮, ২০২২ ০৮:৫৪ অপরাহ্ন দেওয়ানহাটে চউকের উচ্ছেদ অভিযান। ছবি: সংগৃহীত এলিভেটেড এক্সপ্রেসওয়ের নকশা অনুযায়ী জায়গা খালি করতে চট্টগ্রাম নগরীর দেওয়ানহাটে একটি ৬ তলা ভবনের ৬২টি দোকানসহ মোট ৭৪টি দোকান উচ্ছেদ করেছে চট্টগ্রাম উন্নয়ন কর্তৃপক্ষ (চউক)। আজ বৃহস্পতিবার সকাল ৯টা থেকে বিকেল ৫টা পর্যন্ত অভিযান চালিয়ে এসব দোকান উচ্ছেদ করা হয়েছে। চউকের স্পেশাল মেট্রোপলিটন ম্যাজিস্ট্রেট তাহমিনা আফরোজ চৌধুরী উচ্ছেদ অভিযানে নেতৃত্ব দেন। চউকের বিশেষ আদালতের বেঞ্চ সহকারী ফয়েজ আহমেদ দ্য ডেইলি স্টারকে এ তথ্য নিশ্চিত করেছেন। তিনি বলেন, 'এলিভেটেড এক্সপ্রেসওয়ে নির্মাণের জন্য ৬ তলা ভবনসহ উচ্ছেদকৃত জায়গা অধিগ্রহণ করা হয়েছে। ভূমি মালিকদের উঠে যেতে ২ মাস আগে চিঠি দেওয়া হয়। কিন্তু তারা জায়গা খালি করে না দেওয়ায় প্রকল্পের কাজ থমকে আছে। তাই বাধ্য হয়ে উচ্ছেদ অভিযান চালিয়েছে চউক।' এদিকে দোকান মালিকরা জানান, তারা দোকানের ক্ষতিপূরণ পাননি। দোকানমালিক জাহিদুল আলম মামুন দ্য ডেইলি স্টারকে বলেন, 'বহুতল ভবনটির ভূমি ওয়াকফকৃত। এই ভূমির মালিককে চউক কর্তৃপক্ষ টাকা দিয়েছে। কিন্তু তিনি আমাদের টাকা দেননি। টাকা বুঝিয়ে না দিয়ে তিনি গড়িমসি করছেন।' এ বিষয়ে জানতে ওয়াকফকৃত ভূমির মোতোয়াল্লি শফি ইকবালকে একাধিকবার ফোন করা হলেও তিনি তা রিসিভ করেননি। চউক জানায়, ভবনটি ভাঙার জন্য একটি প্রতিষ্ঠানকে নিয়োগ দেওয়া হয়েছে। শিগগির ভবনটি ভেঙে জায়গাটি খালি করে দেওয়া হবে।
  19. https://www.thedailystar.net/business/news/rooftop-solar-panels-can-produce-4000mw-electricity-bangladesh-3114566 ‘Rooftop solar panels can produce 4,000MW electricity in Bangladesh’ Idcol CEO says Star Business Report Thu Sep 8, 2022 08:40 PM Last update on: Thu Sep 8, 2022 08:47 PM Bangladesh has the potential to generating over 4,000 megawatts of electricity from rooftop solar panels, said Alamgir Morshed, executive director and CEO of Infrastructure Development Company Limited (Idcol). The Idcol has set a target to finance 300 MW of power through rooftop solar projects by 2025, he added. He spoke at a workshop on installation of rooftop industrial solar system at M Anis Ud Dowla Conference Hall at Police Plaza Concord in Dhaka on Wednesday. Rooftop solar panels can produce power at cost lower than the grid tariff, experts said at the event. Thus, financing such projects makes financial sense apart from achieving the country's target of renewable energy-based power generation, they said. The government has expressed its vision to generate 4,200 megawatts (MW) of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. Md Habibur Rahman, secretary to power division, and Sharifa Khan, secretary to the Economic Relations Division, also spoke.
  20. https://www.tbsnews.net/bangladesh/infrastructure/misplan-delays-cost-overruns-dog-brt-492790 Jahidul Islam 08 September, 2022, 10:50 pm Last modified: 08 September, 2022, 10:57 pm Misplan, delays, cost overruns dog BRT The vision was grand. A dedicated bus transit, formally called Bus Rapid Transit or BRT, which would sweep around 20,000 riders 20.5 kilometres into downtown Gazipur from Dhaka airport every hour. But now it is a glaring example of how imprudent planning, a lack of farsightedness and subsequent cost overruns can leave a project hanging in the balance. The Tk2,040 crore estimate in 2012 was hardly cheap – nearly Tk100 crore per kilometre. The cost escalation since then has been astronomical. The launch dates got pushed forward time and again and cost estimates crept upward – at latest count, around Tk4,268 crore with 109% hike over the years with a completion date of December this year. From the very beginning, the planners have been flip-flopping on different components of the Airport-Gazipur BRT project. First, they thought up a four-lane transit, then cut it to two lanes. In another revision, they reduced the number of bus stations to 23 from the initial 31. They also felt a need for lanes for non-motorised transport and pedestrians on Tongi bridge which they had not thought about initially. Ten years into the long-delayed project, it has now dawned on the project authorities that there needs to be a fencing between the bus rapid transit and the mass transport costing Tk20 crore and they also feel the road surface thickness has to be increased by up to 167% based on requirements. The Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges, which is implementing the BRT project, has taken an initiative to make a massive change in the project design, which will discard the plans to construct a few kitchen markets in Gazipur and an underpass involving a cost of Tk420 crore at the Dhaka airport area. The frequent changes in technical specification and design of the BRT project, which has made around 80% progress, seems to be never-ending. The project authorities in its latest proposal to the Planning Commission now seek one more year to complete it. If the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council gives its go-ahead to the fifth extension proposal, the project will be completed in December next year. Thus, a four-year job will enter 11th year because of the myriad problems starting with feasibility study to project formulation to design to implementation. A project evaluation committee (PEC) in a meeting arranged by the Physical Infrastructure Division of the Planning Commission on Thursday, expressed its displeasure at the authorities' proposal for getting one more year to complete the project that already went through four time extensions. It also wanted to know what kind of disciplinary action had been taken against those involved in making faulty design and negligent in the project work. In the earlier revision, the road transport and bridges ministry had changed the width of the Tongi bridge, opted for construction of at-grade overpasses at each station instead of underpasses, changed length and width of six flyovers, increased the length of the elevated portion by one kilometre reducing the at-grade part and added construction of services lanes and footpaths. Experts believe that there is no precedent for such frequent changes in the design of any development project in Bangladesh or even anywhere in the world. Transport expert Professor M Shamsul Haque told The Business Standard that there can be no justification for spending more than a decade on such a project. The bus rapid transit had been planned without considering construction of separate footpaths in labour-intensive industrial areas like Gazipur. Besides, there had been no plan to develop a drainage system to deal with waterlogging, he noted. The project is now facing uncertainty because of so many changes a long time after it was taken up, he also said. The ongoing BRT construction cost is at least 10 times more than the global standard. As a result, he believes that the project will no longer be profitable. Satyajit Karmaker, member at Physical Infrastructure Division of the Planning Commission, who presided over the PEC meeting on Thursday, said the meeting decided to recommend approving the proposal to revise the project, subject to compliance with some conditions.
  21. https://www.dhakapost.com/country/140331 বগুড়ায় কাঁচা মরিচের কেজি ১২ টাকা জেলা প্রতিনিধি, বগুড়া ০৭ সেপ্টেম্বর ২০২২, ০৯:২০ পিএম বগুড়ায় ১২ টাকা কেজি দরে বিক্রি হচ্ছে কাঁচা মরিচ। গত দুই সপ্তাহ আগেও পাইকারি বাজারে কাঁচা মরিচ বিক্রি হয়েছে ১৫০ থেকে ২০০ টাকা কেজিতে। সেই কাঁচা মরিচ বগুড়ার আদমদীঘিতে মাত্র দুই সপ্তাহের ব্যবধানে নেমে এসেছে ১২ টাকায়। তবে বগুড়া শহরে কাঁচা মরিচ ২০ টাকা কেজিতে বিক্রি হচ্ছে। বুধবার (৭ সেপ্টেম্বর) সকালে জেলার আদমদীঘির সদর, ছাতিয়ানগ্রাম ও সান্তাহার বাজারসহ বিভিন্ন হাটবাজারে খুচরা ১৫ টাকা কেজিতে কাঁচা মরিচ বিক্রি হয়েছে। জেলার মহাস্থান হাটে পাইকারি বাজারে খুচরা ১৫ টাকা কেজি বিক্রি হয়েছে। জেলা কৃষি সম্প্রসারণ অধিদপ্তর সূত্রে জানা গেছে, চলতি মৌসুমে জেলার বিভিন্ন এলাকায় প্রায় সহস্রাধিক বিঘা জমিতে মরিচ চাষ করা হয়েছে। গত বছরের তুলনায় এবার মরিচ চাষের পরিমাণ কিছুটা বেশি। নিত্যপ্রয়োজনীয় দ্রব্যের দাম বৃদ্ধির সঙ্গে তাল মিলিয়ে পাইকারি বাজারে কাঁচা মরিচের দামও বৃদ্ধি করা হয়েছিল। দুই সপ্তাহ আগে পাইকারি বাজারে কাঁচা মরিচ বিক্রি হয়েছে ১৫০ থেকে ২০০ টাকা কেজিতে। যা এখন পাইকারি বাজারে ১২টাকা ও খুচরা বাজারে ১৫ টাকায় নেমে এসেছে। আদমদিঘী উপজেলার ছাতিয়ানগ্রাম হাটে মরিচ বিক্রি করতে আসা অন্তাহার গ্রামের আবু সাঈদ জানান, তিনি ১২ টাকা কেজি দরে কাঁচা মরিচ বিক্রি করেছেন। মহাস্থান হাটে পাইকারি কাঁচা মরিচ ক্রেতা মুক্তি ফল ভান্ডারের রহেদুল ইসলাম জানান, জমি থেকে অধিক পরিমাণে মরিচ তোলার কারণে বাজারে আমদানি বেড়ে যাওয়ায় দাম অনেক কমে গেছে। এখন মরিচ চাষিরা বিপাকে পড়েছেন। গত দুই সপ্তাহ আগে ১৫০-২০০ টাকা কেজির কাঁচা মরিচ এখন ১৫ টাকা কেজি দরে বিক্রি হচ্ছে। কাঁচা মরিচের পাইকারী ব্যবসায়ী মনোয়ার হোসেন জানায়, হাট বাজারে আমদানি বেশি হওয়ায় দাম কমেছে। কাঁচা মরিচ পচনশীল। তাই মরিচের দরপতন হয়েছে। মরিচ চাষি মকবুল হোসেন জানান, প্রতি বিঘা জমিতে মরিচ চাষের জন্য প্রায় ২৫-৩০ হাজার টাকা খরচ হয়ে থাকে। হঠাৎ পাইকারি বাজারে ১২ টাকা কেজিতে বিক্রি করে উৎপাদন খরচ তোলা সম্ভব হচ্ছে না। এখন ক্ষেত থেকে প্রতিকেজি মরিচ তুলতে ৫ টাকা শ্রমিকের মজুরি দিতে হচ্ছে। আদমদিঘী উপজেলার মরিচের ক্রেতা গিয়াস উদ্দিন জানান, বুধবার সকালে খুচরা বাজারে ১৫ টাকা কেজি দরে মরিচ কিনেছি। যা গত সোমবার ৩০ টাকা কেজি বিক্রি হয়েছে। বগুড়া কৃষি সম্প্রসারণ অধিদপ্তরের উপ-পরিচালক দুলাল হোসেন জানান, জেলার ১২টি উপজেলার বেশিরভাগ মরিচ চাষ হয় ইউনিয়ন পর্যায়ে। সার্বক্ষণিক কৃষকের পাশে ছিল কৃষি বিভাগ। ফলে এবার মরিচের ফলনও ভালো হয়েছে। জমি থেকে মরিচ তোলা শুরু করায় বাজারে কাঁচা মরিচের দাম কমেছে। আরএআর
  22. https://www.dhakatribune.com/economy/2022/09/07/what-is-cepa-and-how-does-it-benefit-bangladeshs-economy What is Cepa and how does it benefit Bangladesh’s economy? Cepa has the potential to be a game-changing agreement given the economic and geographical potential of the two countries Tribune Desk September 7, 2022 5:31 PM Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said rising energy prices are presently posing a challenge to all developing countries and fruitful talks between Bangladesh and India are underway on connecting power transmission lines. "The unveiling of the first unit of Maitree Thermal Power Plant will increase the availability of affordable electricity in Bangladesh," he said after his extensive discussions with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on all bilateral, regional and international issues. The Indian PM said his country is the largest market in Asia for Bangladesh's exports and to further accelerate this growth, they will soon start discussions on the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa). "Our bilateral trade is growing rapidly." Modi also said that the two economies will be able to connect more with each other, support each other with the expansion of connectivity between the two countries and the development of trade infrastructure on the border. For India, Bangladesh is India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia. The bilateral trade has grown from $9 billion to $18 billion in the last five years. It has also become the fourth largest export destination for India with the exports registering a growth of over 66% from $9.69 billion in FY21 to $16.15 billion in FY22. Indian foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra later told reporters that the two leaders have asked for the negotiations to be completed “in time for Bangladesh’s final graduation from LDC status”. Bangladesh is scheduled to graduate from the Least Developed Country status in November 2026. It is also India’s largest trade partner in South Asia with major exports from India including cotton, cereals, fuel, vehicle parts and machinery and mechanical appliances. Why Cepa? Cepa has the potential to be a game-changing agreement given the economic and geographical potential of the two countries, doctoral researcher Doreen Chowdhury wrote for The Diplomat recently. The proposed Cepa between Bangladesh and India has three dimensions, namely trade in goods, trade in services, and investment. The main target of the proposed agreement is to reduce the huge trade gap between Bangladesh and India and open up new economic opportunities including connectivity, new markets, and cooperation and partnership. Moreover, the Cepa is planned to resolve the issues and challenges of anti-dumping duties and rules of origin through the perspective of multi-modal connectivity and deepening of cooperation in the context of the sub-regional cooperation. According to an official statement released by India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Cepa will incorporate a variety of issues of mutual interest, including the development of railway infrastructure, port infrastructure, border haats (trading posts), regional connectivity through multi-modal transportation, harmonization of standards, and a mutual recognition agreement. Further, the agreement looks to step up cooperation in new areas such as green technologies, renewables, and IT and digital platforms. In addition, the agreement focuses on four areas for strengthening India-Bangladesh partnership including connectivity and maintaining uninterrupted supply chain, joint production of defense equipment, the exploring of potential areas of investments, and joint manufacturing of vaccines and other medicines. First, against the backdrop of growing bilateral trade, the trading regime between the two countries, including imports, exports, and related rules and regulations, will get new momentum as the agreement has instruments to work jointly on trade, supply chains, and production, Chowdhury further stated. If Cepa is operationalized, bilateral trade potential could be $40 billion. Second, the agreement will boost bilateral and sub-regional connectivity that Bangladesh has championed in its policy initiatives. The Cepa will produce a cluster of connectivity which will shape future trade through the Asian Highway Network routes (AH-1 and 2); the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal Initiative; the Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar Economic Corridor; and Bimstec – the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation. Third, the agreement will create new venues for cooperation and partnership and open up opportunities for the creation of joint production hubs and uninterrupted supply chains, which will create new markets for both countries. Bangladesh has already set up three Special Economic Zones for Indian investors and Indian companies are investing in various sectors including telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, and automobile manufacturing in Bangladesh. Fourth, as Bangladesh prepares for its dual graduation journey (middle-income graduation and LDC graduation), the agreement will be important for harnessing the potential opportunities by addressing the attendant concerns and leveraging the initiatives. And fifth, Cepa will generate revenues for both Bangladesh and India as the connectivity and trade along territorial and maritime borders increases. Challenges As per the World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations, all border duties and undue restrictions must be eliminated, covering at least 90% of trade in goods with partner countries, and service must cover substantially all sectors. Hence, it may impact Bangladesh’s import duties. Reciprocity should be maintained while striking the deal, Doreen Chowdhury further suggested. To fully harness the benefits of an FTA, a country should have a diversified export basket to balance trade volumes, she added. Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Prof Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow of the CPD said that now was a very opportune time to deepen the bilateral trade relations between Dhaka and Delhi. The signing of the Cepa can be a win-win for both countries as such a deal covers trade, investment, connectivity, logistics, and various policy coordination issues, he added. “But once we sign Cepa, we will have to shift to reciprocity from non-reciprocity,” he said, adding that in that case, if there is a two-track policy for Bangladesh as a relatively weaker economy, with regard to trade liberalization, tariff liberalization, compliance assurance under Cepa, it will be better for Bangladesh. Along with tariff issues, Bangladesh also needs to focus on how it can boost investment in India's north-eastern region and attract Indian investors to the special economic zones through Cepa. “India has competitive advantages over us in the fields of services, IT, and software. If we can enhance our collaboration with it in those areas, our services exports to the country will go up,” he added. If Bangladesh can reach Indian standards through mutual initiative and the help of the South Asian Regional Standards Organization, it will help to address the existing issues, such as anti-dumping and countervailing duties. “Our trade with India is mainly done through land ports. So, we can maximize gains from Cepa by building an integrated customs system as well as interoperability of the system and a single window at land ports,” Rahman added. Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Shahidullah Azim, acting president of the BGMEA, said that the trade deficit between Bangladesh and India is very high, at more than $7.35 billion. If Cepa is signed there is a possibility of reducing this trade deficit, he also said. Azim also said that Bangladesh imported a big chunk of raw materials from India. “Moreover, India is one of the new markets we have targeted for apparel export. Once the agreement is made, we can import duty-free materials from India and export the finished products further to India,” he mentioned. In this regard, the contract should be negotiated in such a way that the exporters of our country get the maximum advantages, he added
  23. https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/industry/berger-paints-put-tk400cr-state-art-factory-491590 Salah Uddin Mahmud & Jahir Rayhan 07 September, 2022, 01:30 pm Last modified: 07 September, 2022, 01:26 pm Berger Paints to put in Tk400cr for a state-of-the-art factory Berger Paints with its two factories in Dhaka and Chattogram achieved 31.80% revenue growth in FY22 Berger Paints Bangladesh Limited has moved to invest some Tk400cr in setting up a state-of-the-art factory as it looks to further expand its market reach, which is currently about 50% of the country's paint market. The company plans to produce higher quality paints in its planned production unit, which will be built on a 40-acre area at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar, the largest industrial city in the country. All preparations to set up an "environment-friendly" factory have been completed and construction is expected to begin in full swing within the next one and a half months, say officials. "The construction is expected to take some 18 months and it will cost up to Tk400 crore for the factory alone," said Rupali Chowdhury, managing director of the company. "We will use the latest technology in the construction of the factory, which will be an automated production unit," she said, adding that the facility will also feature a Research and Development centre. In 2018, the company leased 30 acres of land in the industrial city located in Mirsarai and Sitakunda upazilas of Chattogram and Sonagazi upazila of Feni and added another 10 acres in 2020. Berger Paints plans to use the new factory to produce decorative paint, industrial paint, marine coatings, wood coatings, construction chemicals, adhesives, automotive paints – all of which are in increasingly high demand in the market. The local paint industry has become more competitive as the new entrants are very aggressive in expanding their distribution reach and grabbing market shares. The top paint companies are focused on diversified product offerings and introduction of premium products with enhanced features, technology driven solutions for various industries and high protective coatings. Six multinational companies - Berger Paints, Asian Paints, Nippon Paint, Jotun Paint, AkzoNobel Joint Collaboration with ACI, and Kansai Nerolac Paints Bangladesh Ltd in joint collaboration with RAK Paints have acquired 82% of market shares while the rest of the companies, including 8 major local players, are competing for the remaining 18% of the market. Berger Paints with its two factories in Dhaka and Chattogram dominates about half the market share, followed by Asian Paints Ltd, an Indian multinational, which accounts for 16% of the total market. According to data from Bangladesh Paints Manufacturers Association (BPMA) in 2019, the country's paints market is expanding by 10-12% annually. The market size stood at Tk300.30 crore or 2 lakh tonnes in that year. Berger Paints, which got listed on the stock exchanges in 2006, achieved 31.80% revenue growth and around 19% volume growth in the financial year 2022, ending on 31 March. During the year, the net profit of Berger Paints stood at Tk291 crore, with the company recommending 400% cash dividends for its shareholders. The company has taken initiatives, including the addition of a number of new products, to meet the diversified needs of customers and explore new frontiers. Berger is one of the oldest names in the paint industry and one of the world's leading paint manufacturers based in the United Kingdom. It was incorporated in Bangladesh in June 1973.
  24. .https://today.thefinancialexpress.com.bd/country/sugarcane-growers-eye-bumper-yield-in-manikganj-1662482438 Sugarcane growers eye bumper yield in Manikganj September 07, 2022 00:00:00 MANIKGANJ, Sept 06 (BSS): Sugarcane cultivators in the district are expecting bumper production during the current season due to favourable weather conditions in Manikganj. Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) sources said a total of 503 hectares of land have been brought under sugarcane cultivation during the current season. Soil of Singair upazila is suitable for sugarcane cultivation. So most of the sugarcane was cultivated in Singair upazila of the district and those were not inundated by the seasonal water. The DAE sources also said though there is no Sugar Mill in the district, but the farmers of the district specially the Singair upazila cultivate sugarcane as a cash crop. Sugarcane of Singair is in great demand in and outside of the district as delicious drinks. Afsar Uddin of village Bahir khola, a sugarcane trader, said harvesting of the sugarcane has already been started and its juice is always in great demand. "So, now we're collecting sugarcane from fields to meet the immediate demand," Ahmad Ali, another sugarcane cultivator said. "There is great demand for sugarcane round the year. Now it's for drinking and later it will be for making molasses," he added. Abu Mohammad Enayet ullah, Deputy Director of DAE, said the cultivation of sugarcane in the district is increasing day by day for its demand.
  25. https://www.tbsnews.net/bangladesh/energy/coal-terminal-proposed-amid-promises-phase-out-dirty-energy-491694 Saifuddin Saif 07 September, 2022, 03:00 pm Last modified: 07 September, 2022, 04:34 pm Coal terminal proposed amid promises to phase out dirty energy The Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Limited has submitted a preliminary project proposal in this regard to the Economic Relations Division recently seeking a financing guideline Even though Bangladesh scrapped 10 coal-fired power projects last year, the authorities now move to build a coal transshipment terminal with an annual capacity of 1.5 crore tonnes at Matarbari in Cox's Bazar. The Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Limited has submitted a preliminary project proposal in this regard to the Economic Relations Division recently seeking a financing guideline, said officials. According to the project proposal, the terminal will accommodate large imported coal shipments and ensure an efficient supply of the power generation raw material to plants across the country. The transshipment terminal will have coal loading and unloading berths, coal stock yards and expanded inner harbour for Matarbari coal-fired power plants. The terminal proposal envisages six coal-based plants in Cox's Bazar's Matarbari and Moheshkhali, although the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) recently cancelled financing in the second phase of the Matarbari Coal Power Plant owing to Japan's carbon pledges. According to the power sector master plan 2010, 50% of the country's total power generation by 2030 will be from coal. In line with the plan, the country's public and private sector took up some 22 coal-based electricity projects in association with Jica, neighbouring India and China. However, coal dependency for power generation was reduced to 35% in the 2016 power master plan. The government in June last year cancelled 10 coal power projects, which were in the land acquisition and land development stages. The authorities are now implementing 11 coal-fired power plants with a combined capacity of 12,147MW. Sources at the Power Division said the coal-fired plants to be implemented include electricity units in Payra, Matarbari, Rampal, Patuakhali, Mirsharai, Moheshkhali, Barishal, Chattogram and Dhaka. According to the Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Limited, it is difficult to transport coal to each coal-fired power plant directly by large coal carriers since most of the coastal areas of Bangladesh have shallow waters. Transporting the imported coal by small vessels through the existing river channels to the power plants is also inefficient in terms of a stable supply. The company argues that the coal terminal in Cox's Bazar will have limited adverse effects on the environment, while it will have easy access to the deep-sea shipments. Abul Kalam Azad, executive director (Project) of the company, said the transshipment terminal will mainly supply coal to Rampal and Payra plants. "However, the decision is yet to be finalised as we have just sent the preliminary development project proposal to the Economic Relations Division," he added. Climate campaigners oppose the coal terminal plan, terming it "unnecessary" as the country decided to reduce coal-dependency for electricity. Besides, they argued that the terminal proposal had been prepared in line with an old power master plan, which is invalidated by the Power System Master Plan 2016. "As per the government plan, there will not be more coal-fired power plants in Matabari except the on-going one which would require only 42 lakh tonnes of coal annually. So, a coal transshipment terminal with 1.5 crore tonne annual capacity will be a waste," Hasan Mehedi, member secretary of the Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt, said.
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