Bicycle exports fetched Tk 1121 cr
Mahfuz Emran: Bicycles made in Bangladesh are now appreciated all over the world. Bicycles costing from Tk 5,000 to Tk 200,000 are also being made in the country. The Meghna Group bought the government bicycle manufacturing company in Tejgaon in the capital in 1997.
After three years, the company started exporting this industrial product in 1999. In recent years, Bangladesh has been the largest exporter of bicycles to countries like Germany, Denmark, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, Italy and Bulgaria. Apart from Europe, domestic bicycles are currently being exported to Congo, Gabon and Ivory Coast in Africa through Red, Ferral and Inigo brands. In the fiscal year 2020-21, Tk 1,121 crore came from bicycle exports.
According to the research and statistics of the National Investment Board of Bangladesh University of Engineering, about 40,000 small and medium enterprises are operating in this sector, where about 6 million people are directly dependent. Four hundred registered entrepreneurs of Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation have set up light engineering and related industrial based factories across the country. The government has also declared light industry as an important sector.
These industries are producing iron castings, bicycles, electronics products, engineering equipment, conductive wires, stainless steel products. By meeting the domestic demand, the export income from this sector has increased to $51 crore.
In 2009-10 Fiscal Year $31.1, in 2010-11 Fiscal $30.9, in FY 2011-12 $38.5, in FY 2012-13 $37.06 crore. In the financial year 2013-14, the exports stood at $44.6 crore dollars.
The government wants to take this sector further through the project ‘Development of light engineering sector and creation of e-waste processing facilities’. Bangladesh Science and Industry Research Council (BCSIR) will implement the project. The objective and goal of the project is to bring the services of light and medium engineering sector of the country to the doorsteps of the people. Materials centers will be set up at Light Engineering Development Center in Chittagong and Leather Research Centers at Rajshahi and Savar under the project.
Establishment of Materials Center and E-Waste Processing Laboratory at Dhaka Campus, Construction Materials (Steel, Concrete, Cement etc.) produced by Domestic and International Industrial Factories, Products manufactured in the Light Engineering Sector (Spare Parts, etc.) and Electrical, Electrical, etc.) Specialized laboratories will be established for quality improvement.
Some research centers will be established and connected with domestic and international research educational institutions. The project will be implemented in June 2024 after approval. The cost of the project has been estimated at Tk 49.30 crore.
Bangladesh Council of Science and Industry Research (BCSIR) Chief Scientific Officer Abdul Gafur said that bicycles have come a long way as an export product. The product is now being exported abroad to meet the demand of the country.
Besides, iron castings, electronics products, engineering equipment, conductive wires, rust-free steel products are also going abroad. Many people are involved in these sectors. Initiatives are being taken on how they can further develop and make them more efficient. Light engineering is now a promising sector. We are trying to make further improvements in this sector. More support will be given to those concerned. That is why the project is being taken.
According to BCSIR sources, the history of socio-economic development of developed and developing countries around the world shows that the establishment of materials processing industry has always played an important role in the economic development of the country. Industrialization begins with the demand for quality resources, availability and affordable products and services. The driving force behind industrialization is advanced raw materials, spare parts and related services, which are directly dependent on the material processing industry.
In order to establish itself as a middle-income country, the industry of Bangladesh has already been able to show its own efforts and endeavors to the world. The material processing industry needs to be more integrated to take this situation forward. This requires a state-of-the-art laboratory to develop technical capabilities.
Light engineering sector advancing
The industry of a country affects the export and economy of that country. The main tasks of the light engineering industry are to manufacture light and heavy machinery and repair parts. Experts believe that the sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP in the 2019-20 fiscal year is about 2.5 percent, which could be greatly increased considering the potential.
About 10 thousand different types of products and services are available from the light engineering sector. These include welding, parts, dies and molds, light machines, switches, sheds, channels, conductive wires, fans, bicycles, fittings, construction equipment, batteries, stabilizers, carbon rods, transport parts, engine parts, nut-bolts, plastics, Metal furniture, utensils, fire extinguishers, gas cylinders etc. are notable.
The sector meets at least 50 per cent demand of the country’s agriculture, food, jute and textile, paper, cement, shipbuilding, chemical, pharmaceutical, automotive, shipping and railway industries.
Two products of the light engineering sector are particularly significant in terms of exports – electrically conductive copper wire and bicycles. There is huge demand for these products in the world market as well as domestic demand. Bangladesh is also gaining a reputation in the world court for the production of electrical spare parts such as meters, transformers, conductors etc. Due to the widespread use of metallic iron, aluminum and copper in these industries, there is a need for quality verification and research and development services.
BSIR says the Bangladesh government has taken a number of strategic steps, with the light engineering sector at the forefront. Plans have been made to set up a ‘light engineering cluster village’ around the capital. This light engineering sector may become an alternative to the garment industry as a major source of foreign exchange in the future. The role of government research institutes is needed to accelerate the implementation of these strategic targets and to address the ongoing problems in the respective sectors.
A study conducted by Bangladesh Foreign Aid Institute has identified some obstacles in the light engineering sector. These include:
Competitive market with imported products from large foreign manufacturing companies, lack of quality raw materials, lack of quality verification facilities for imported products, limited knowledge about production process, lack of quality and visible quality of manufactured products. In addition, there is a lack of recognized laboratories to verify the quality of exportable products, as well as market inconsistencies in contrast to healthy investments. There is also a lack of skills, central research and development.
Iron and steel industry
Iron and steel industry is practically the only presence of what is meant by heavy engineering industry in Bangladesh. More precisely the steel re-rolling mill. There are about four hundred steel re-bowling mills in the country. Their total annual production capacity is about 6 million tons. The annual demand for steel consumption in the country is 26 lakh tons. The mills produce about 4 million tons of steel a year. Its market value is about Tk 30 thousand crore.
Only about 40 per cent of the national demand for steel is used in various large scale development projects of the government. The importance of this sector in the sustainable infrastructural development of the country is easily conceivable.
On the other hand, the current per capita steel consumption in Bangladesh is only 25 kg, which is about 216 kg in the developed countries of the world. By 2022, it could reach 50 kg. Industry insiders say the government needs to take stronger steps to develop these sectors.
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