3,000 tonnes hilsa to export in India
Bangladesh will export around 3,000 tonnes of hilsa to India marking upcoming Durga Puja, the biggest religious festival of the Hindu community scheduled to be held next month.
“We have been exporting hilsa continuously for the last three years to India as a goodwill gesture 15-20 days ahead of the Durga Puja festival,” said Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi.
A total of 60 private companies – each to export a maximum of 50 tonnes – got approval from the commerce ministry.
The ministry, however, in its latest order has extended the export timeframe till October 5 instead of the previously scheduled timeframe of September 30 as the government has imposed a 22-day hilsa fishing ban which will start from October 7.
As per the order, the export permits cannot be transferred to other companies nor is any kind of subcontracting allowed. Only authorized organizations will be able to export the hilsa.
Last year, the commerce ministry gave approval to 115 firms to export 4,600 tonnes of hilsa to India against applications from around 200 companies. But only 1,100 tonnes were ultimately exported.
Some 1,450 tonnes were exported to India in 2020 and 18 firms received permission in the year. In 2019, only one trader got permission and it exported 500 tonnes of the fish.
According to the export policy order, the export of hilsa from Bangladesh is banned. However, every year before Durga Puja, a large number of exporters of the country apply to the Ministry of Commerce for permission to send hilsa to India.
After halting the hilsa export to India for seven years, the ministry allowed a certain amount of hilsa exports to India conditionally before the Durga Puja in 2019.
However, the government stopped the export in 2012 after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee opposed the Teesta water-sharing agreement.
In 2015, when Mamata Banerjee visited Bangladesh and requested Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to export hilsa to India, the latter replied, “Hilsa will go if Teesta water comes.”
Later in 2019, the government resumed the hilsa export to its neighbour.
PM Sheikh Hasina urges to ensure sustainable export growth & explore new markets
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked all concerned to find a way out to ensure sustainable export growth and explore new global markets for Bangladeshi goods in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war.
The Prime Minister made the call while speaking at the 11th meeting of the National Committee on Export, at her official residence Ganabhaban in Dhaka on Monday (20 March).
PM said, “Steps will have to be taken to achieve sustainable export growth after analysing situation steamed from the global economic recession due to the war in Ukraine,” she told the 11th meeting regarding export at her official Ganabhaban residence here.
The prime minister also urged all concerned to diversify the export items and explore new markets for those alongside revitalising the local markets.
“A new scope has been created globally to explore new markets for Bangladeshi items due to enhanced demands for goods because of the war in Ukraine. We have to grasp the markets,” she added.
The premier also called for formulating a new export policy for another 4 or 5 years by revising, changing and improving the existing one going to expire by 2024.
She said the new export policy should be adopted by analyzing the ongoing global economic recession, sanctions, counter-sanctions for the war and the challenges and scopes possibly to be created in Bangladesh after the graduation from the LDC by 2026.
Due to LC Opening Crisis Fruits, Dates price likely to hike amid Ramadan Ahead
Presently, the consumers will have to spend more money than usual in case of purchasing dates and other fruits—two essential items in iftar during Ramadan, due to importers’ difficulty in opening letters of credit (LCs) on time.
Price hike is a most common phenomenon ahead of the month of Ramadan in Bangladesh, and this year even more due to the LC opening crisis.
Already, the price of dates has doubled in the wholesale and retail markets and it will be more expensive ahead of Ramadan, said some businessmen.
The price of all types of dates has hiked in the local markets ranging from Tk 40 to Tk 160 per kg while different fruits range from Tk 30 to Tk 100 per kg.
Some traders said the prices of these essential iftar items will increase further during the month of Ramadan as they are facing difficulties in opening LCs which will push up the prices of dates and fruits.
According to the sources at Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), the price of dates increased by 20 percent compared to the last year.
Milton, a shop owner in the Baridhara area, said “The price of dates went more expensive in the past month ahead of Ramadan and I was able to purchase a limited amount of dates due to the soaring price of it.
He also feared that the price of dates would be soared further in the month of Ramadan.
Habibur Rahman, a fruit trader said the price of every fruit has increased.
Whatsoever, ajwa variety of dates is being sold at Tk 750-800 which was available at Tk 600-700 last year. Mariam variety of dates is being sold at Tk 800-850 while the premium variety of dates is being sold at Tk 1000-1200 per kg.
According to the statistics of Bangladesh Bank, the import of dates has fallen by almost half compared to the demands of it but during Ramadan the demand for dates is about 50,000 tonnes.
In the past three months, only 22,000 tonnes of dates were imported which is 46 percent less than the last year. However, the authorities concerned related to import dates have opened LC of 29,000 tonnes dates in January, said sources at Bangladesh Bank.
Sirajul Islam, president of Bangladesh Fresh Fruits Importers Association, said the demand for dates increases three to four times during the month of Ramadan. Besides, there is a demand of 50,000-70,000 dates in the country in a year while 40,000-50,000 is needed in Ramadan alone, he said.
Referring to the opening of LC, Sirajul said “This year the traders faced difficulties in opening LCs in time as they had to open it by paying 100% cash margin while it was 5 percent. The small traders are the worst sufferers in opening LCs.”
The dates are being imported from the Middle East and Africa and dates were being stocked five-six months before the Ramadan, he added.
He also said that the price of dates may increase 30 percent in Ramadan due to the dollar crisis and transport cost caused by the fuel price hike.
If the government will take steps in unloading dates in ports on a priority basis, then there will be no instability in the market, said Sirajul.
Contacted, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, said “We’ll take necessary steps so that the consumers can purchase dates, the most essential items in iftar, at a tolerable price.”
He also assured of keeping monitoring the market to prevent volatile price hikes of dates.
Issuing a warning, the minister also said strict action will be taken against those involved in increasing the price of dates after creating an artificial crisis.
TCB goods starts to sell amid Ramadhan ahead
The state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) has taken an initiative to sell 6 essential items to some 1 crore low-income groups of families ahead of the holy month of Ramadan.
TCB will start selling 3 essential items – edible oil, sugar, dates and chickpeas and lentils—among such families from Thursday (March 9). These essential items will be sold in two phases. In the first phase selling of the items will start from Thursday across the nation.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi will inaugurate the sales of essential items formally through a function at Tejgaon in the capital on Thursday.
The cardholders can buy the six goods at subsidized rates from the TCB’s specific sales points and dealers’ outlets. Any cardholder can buy 2 litres of soybean oil, 2 kg lentil, sugar, chickpea and 1 kg date at a time. All the specific card holders can buy sugar at Tk 60/per kg, date at Tk 100, lentils at Tk 70, chickpeas at Tk 50 and soybean oil at Tk 110 per liter.
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