Bangladesh has planned to launch a campaign to explore newer markets for jute products as the country is facing a setback in its export to India, a major destination of the items. The State Minister for Textile and Jute spoke of the initiative at a media briefing that coincided with opening of Jute Diversification Promotion Centre (JDPC). He said Bangladesh may face huge economic loss because of Indian anti-dumping duty on import of jute products. Concerned officials say Bangladesh used to export around 100 thousand tons of jute goods to India annually.
The Indian jute goods producers alleged that Bangladeshi manufacturers got huge subsidies and dumped jute products in the Indian market. Thus the Indian Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGDA) has recommended imposition of a wide range of specific anti-dumping duties on three types of Bangladeshi jute products - jute yarn, jute sack and jute bag.
For jute yarn, Bangladesh exporters are likely to face anti-dumping duty between $19 and $162 per ton, while it is $352 for per ton of jute Hessian, and an amount ranging between $125 and $139 for each ton of jute bags. These three jute items now enjoy duty-free access to India under the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA). Incidentally, Bangladesh's jute goods marked 133.8 per cent export rise in India in 2015-2016 financial year.
According to the State Minister, Bangladesh has decided to lodge an appeal against imposition of the anti-dumping law as part of legal initiatives alongside negotiation at official and political levels. He expected the Prime Minister's upcoming New Delhi visit to yield a positive result in reversing the Indian decision. The Indian action is seen as a 'protectionist measure' to favour its own jute business.
To negate the possible impact of the Indian decision, Bangladesh is looking for newer jute markets in different African countries and Australia, as the State Minister said. On the other hand, the government is already implementing a law for mandatory packaging of essential products with jute internally to encourage farmers to grow more jute. Moreover, the government has also earmarked more items to be brought under the packaging law.
It is now time for Bangladesh to immediately take measures to manufacture diverse varieties of jute products to create new markets at home and abroad. Such steps will have a positive bearing on jute cultivation in the country.
The writer is a retired Professor of Economics, BCS General Education Cadre.