Zarif Mahmud: The first glasses store in the country was opened in Old Dhaka. It was the end of the British rule. Fifty years have passed since the independence of the country. However, this sector is still dependent on imports. There is no big domestic investment in the market of around Tk 900 crore. So far, about 15 glasses factories have been established in the country, but their condition is poor. And most of the glasses that are sold under the name of the brand are replicas. These replicas made in China are available at low prices. Even as domestic investors come forward with big investments, there are still fears about retaining the market.
For some people, glasses are like an important part of the body. Immobile without glasses. Again, one of the latest fashion accessories is different types of glasses and sunglasses. The demand for glasses is increasing day by day due to various reasons in the country. But since there is no significant domestic company in the glasses market, the buyers have to pay extra money.
Businessmen say that good quality glasses are not manufactured in the country due to investment and technological weakness. That is why glasses from Singapore, Thailand, Korea, India and China have to be imported at high duty. As a result, buyers are not able to buy good replica glasses at a low price in the country’s market.
It is known that 15 glasses factories have been established in the country so far. But they only make eyeglass frames. Lenses and sunglasses (sunglasses) are all import dependent. Although there is no major domestic investment, the foreign company Magen (Bangladesh) Industries Limited is earning billions of dollars by exporting eyeglass frames using the low-cost labor force of the country. The company’s factory is at Nilphamari. It is a subsidiary of a Hong Kong based company. The company started production in May 2013 and export operations from that year. From Bangladesh, the frames of these glasses are going to the Hong Kong market, which is again being exported from there to various countries around the world. The exporting company does not market their products in the local market of the country.
The issue of lack of domestic big investment in the glasses market has also come up in various meetings and seminars of traders including the Ministry of Commerce. The President of FBCCI along with the Minister of Commerce, Industry Minister has repeatedly called for increasing the production of spectacles in the country to reduce the import dependence of the businessmen. Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi has said on many occasions that glasses are an essential product and the demand for it is high. But the entire demand has to be imported. There is no big organization. We need investment in this industry.
He also said that the production process of glasses is not a difficult task. If necessary, entrepreneurs should import raw materials and produce glasses in the country. Support will be provided in consultation with the Ministry of Finance and the National Board of Revenue for the expansion of this industry and resolution of the crisis. Ministry of Commerce will provide all kind of cooperation.
In response to the question why there has not been a big investment in this industry, Sheikh Nurul Islam, president of Bangladesh Eyewear Industry and Merchants Association, told Jago News that this market has now been monopolized by China. Again, there is violence against low-priced spectacles brought in by evading duty, so that the genuine producers have to survive. This is a major obstacle in the development of the domestic glasses industry.
He said that there are no foreign original brand products in the country. Most of the products are mediocre and low quality. Replica products galore. Which is being sold as genuine in many cases. It is also a matter of concern how much can be sustained by making good quality glasses in the country.
Generally, two types of glasses are sold more in the market of the country. One is sunglasses and the other is power lenses, which are ophthalmologist-prescribed glasses. Currently, the demand for these two types of glasses is increasing rapidly. Khalek, the seller of Patuatuli Eye Vision, said that now even small children are using glasses for eye problems. Apart from the prescription, many people are now using specially powered computer eye glasses to avoid the harmful light of mobile phones and computers. And the sale of sunglasses has been good for the last decade and a half. Increasing gradually.
Talking to several sellers like him, it is known that there is a high demand for glasses in both fashion and necessity. People’s interest in glasses for bike riding, computer work, dust prevention also increased.
According to Bangladesh Eyeglass Industry and Merchants Association, there are more than 10,000 retail shops selling glasses in the country. All in all, the glasses market in the country is about Tk 900 crore. Patuatuli is the biggest spectacles market in the country. Apart from this, there are single glasses shops in Paltan, Moghbazar, Farmgate, Mirpur wholesale market up to the upazila level of the country.
Businessmen said that approximately two crore pieces of eyeglass lenses are sold in the country annually. Spectacle frames are sold for half the price of lenses. Apart from this, there is a demand for about 20 lakh pieces of sunglasses and another five lakh pieces of children’s spectacles.
The movement of branded glasses in the country is very slow. Although the glasses frames have the names of various global brands, most of the products are made in China, the traders said. Akhter Hossain, manager of Patuatuli’s Chashma Gallery, said that there is no real brand product in the country. Most are replicas, which are sold as originals.
The owner of a company that manufactures spectacle frames in the country said on the condition of anonymity that this industry will never grow in the country if the import of spectacles by tax evasion is not stopped. The government has never taken any action to stop illegal imports. Again, even though the products come in lots from China through legitimate importers, many people are doing business by buying products on online marketplaces. Now half of the traders in the market are involved in imports. Replicas of many brands are being imported at the rate of kg. All in all, there is a chaos going on in the glasses market. We can’t stand it.
He said, replica products of all international brands are being continued with stickers. Ban, Armani, Polis, Reben, Gucci, Fasttrack, any number of brands have replica products in the market. These replica products come from China. Even if it is a replica, there is no way to tell that it is not original. Because of the perfect and low price, the customers also buy it with pleasure.
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