Ceramics industry is booming in the country with investments multiplying. It is not only exporting quality ceramics products such as floor tiles, tableware and sanitary products but also meeting 80 percent of local demands to save foreign currency otherwise were to be spent for imports.
With around Tk220 billion business turnover in this sector, it has so far created jobs for 0.5 million people. At present 66 companies are in operation while another 11 are coming to production soon with state of the art machinery and production line.
Industry leaders have demanded an exclusive special economic zone for ceramic industry to be equipped with adequate infrastructure, utility services, cheaper bank loans and smooth port facilities to build its competiveness in the international market.
Managing Director of Bridge Chemie Limited Nazmul Karim told The Daily Observer that the industry has huge potential for global marketing. His company which is the largest seller and service provider in ceramics sector offers products like raw materials, machinery, accessories, engineering services, colors, gold and platinum for coating and many modern equipment and raw materials.
He said he is outsourcing goods and services from over 50 companies around the world mainly from European Union, China, Thailand, Malaysia and India. At present, he said developed nations are relocating their factories to countries where they get cheaper labor and in this case Bangladesh can exploit this opportunity in attracting foreign direct investments to meet demands for 100 per cent local requirements.
To woo such foreign investments, he said it is imperative to ensure uninterrupted supply of gas, easing regulatory services. There is a great need for low bank borrowing rate, hassle free incentives and also availability of energy and other supplies.
Karim said at existing air and sea port facilities costs of doing business is becoming higher. He said in the recent international ceramic fair they had to bring some samples from abroad but participating foreign companies faced setback at port clearance. It was a complex situation.
He said as ceramics industry is a labor intensive so once the factory automation starts it will require skilled persons to operate high tech machinery. He said for this the government has to arrange vocational trainings for labors.
Regarding exports Karim said though the government has declared cash incentives on exports, there is hassle in the processing as one has to wait for a long time to get the incentive benefits. This must be simplified.
He said last year the ceramics industry could earn $68 million from export and this year’s target has been set at $90 million. But due to slow down in the global market achieving the target may be a quite tough.
He said his company is currently importing more than 50 per cent of the raw materials for use by his company while meeting demands of local ceramics industries. His company always works to match with new market trend and quality requirements by all means.