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Sanitaryware sales hikes in rural areas

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Just two decades ago, one could hardly hope to see a well-furnished bathroom in the country’s semi-urban and rural areas.

The scenario has changed over time as people living in these regions are becoming increasingly aware of good hygiene practices.

In addition, the ongoing development works and expanding electricity coverage across the country are fuelling the market for sanitaryware, according to industry insiders.

“Rapid urbanization and changing lifestyle in line with the people’s rising purchasing power is driving the market for sanitaryware,” said Kamruzzaman Kamal, director of marketing at Pran-RFL Group.

RFL makes various bathroom fittings using metal and PVC materials.

Apart from Pran-RFL Group, Raja Metal Industries, Sharif Metal Ltd and Sattar Metal Industries are major players in the domestic sanitaryware market, which industry operators have estimated to be worth more than Tk 1,300 crore.

Irfan Uddin, general secretary of the Bangladesh Ceramic Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said there are 18 factories with a total investment of nearly Tk 2,000 crore that manufacture sanitaryware in the country.

Uddin then said the total market size was valued at Tk 1,357 crore in fiscal 2021-22 and that locally made products now dominate the once import-heavy segment.

Besides, the sanitaryware industry has created more than 9,600 opportunities for direct employment, he added.

Echoing Uddin, Kamal said although the market was dominated by imports in the past, the situation changed in the last few years as some large corporations entered the business with quality products.

The director of Pran-RFL Group went on to say that the company’s sales are increasing at an average of about 15-20pc each year.

However, he said that the recent hike in the price of USD has had a negative impact on the industry as the raw materials required are mostly imported.

As such, the cost of imports has increased by some 15-20pc in the last few months but moreover, production is being disrupted by daily load shedding and low gas pressure.

“We export our ceramic bathroom fittings mainly to India but we are planning to export metal products as well,” Kamal added.

Nazrul Islam, managing director of Raja Metal Industries, which has been making and selling kitchen and bathroom faucets for local consumers since 1970, said business growth has been quite good over the years.

“Many public and private infrastructures were built in Bangladesh over the past decade and more will be set up in the days to come. So, this industry will enjoy more business in the coming days,” he added.

Islam said that load shedding is hampering production at a time when operational costs have increased 50pc while transport charges are also higher due to the recent hike in fuel and dollar prices.

“As a result, there has been a negative impact on the business,” Islam said, adding that local consumers prefer foreign products.

“When they come across a local product, they ask for discounts, warranties, guarantees and what not because they think local products are not good.”

But when it comes to foreign products of the same make, they do not even question if a warranty is available or bargain too much either.

“This issue is very challenging,” he said.

Islam believes the government should build an industrial park for sanitaryware makers so they can avoid various barriers and concentrate on manufacturing products that are completely home-grown with locally generated raw materials.

“Such support from the government could even help the industry grow towards becoming a major exporter,” Islam added.

Akij Group, one of the biggest local industrial conglomerates, invested about Tk 90 crore for a new sanitaryware plant that will have the capacity to produce around 10,000 pieces of bathroom fittings each day.

Named Akij Bathware Ltd, the new facility located in Trishal Upazila of Mymensingh will create around 500 opportunities for direct employment, a company official said on condition of anonymity.

The factory, which is equipped to produce some 37 types of sanitaryware products, will be launched next month.

“There is no other company in Bangladesh that has the technology that we will use to make the products,” he added.

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Economy

Bangladesh-Qatar Strengthen Ties with 10 Cooperation Deals

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Bangladesh and Qatar signed 10 cooperation documents on Tuesday, including five agreements and five MoUs, aimed at strengthening ties and elevating relations to new heights.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani witnessed the signing of the documents.

The five agreements cover cooperation in the legal field, promotion and protection of mutual investments, avoidance of double taxation, maritime transport, and the establishment of a Joint Business Council (JBC) between FBCCI & QCCI.

The five MoUs include cooperation in sports and youth, manpower employment (Labour), diplomatic training, education, higher education, scientific research, and between Qatar Ports management Company “MAWANI QATAR” and Chittagong Ports Authority.

Earlier in the morning, PM Hasina warmly welcomed and received Emir Sheikh Tamim at her office.

They had a tête-à-tête meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office, followed by a bilateral meeting.

After signing the visitors’ book, the emir headed for Bangabhaban where the president received him.

A high-level Qatari delegation led by Qatar’s emir is on a state visit to Bangladesh at the invitation of the president and the prime minister.

During the ceremony, a road and a park in Dhaka were named after Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani.

The park, constructed in Kalshi area of Mirpur under Dhaka North City Corporation, and the road from Mirpur ECB point to Kalsi Fly Over were named after Emir of Qatar.

Now, the road and park are known as Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani Avenue and Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani Park.

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FBCCI Pushes for SME Participation in Global Trade Fairs

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The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) is urging for greater involvement of marginal, small, and medium enterprises in international trade fairs. This initiative aims to spotlight Bangladesh’s promising products on the global market.

FBCCI President Mahbubul Alam made the call during the first meeting of the organisation’s Standing Committee on National and International Trade Fairs and Foreign Delegations. He emphasised the need to provide marginal, small, and medium enterprises with the space and resources to effectively display their products at these events.

“The participation of marginal, small, and medium enterprises is crucial at both national and international levels,” Mahbubul Alam said. “This will allow us to export Bangladesh’s promising products and open new markets.”

The FBCCI president informed that his organisation is actively discussing and collaborating with the government to make this a reality. He also proposed organising roadshows in neighbouring countries and Europe to revive the country’s handicraft industry and increase export opportunities for these products.

Standing Committee Chairman Nuruzzaman echoed Mahbubul Alam’s sentiments, highlighting Bangladesh’s vast potential and young population. “We need to move beyond the garment sector and focus on product diversification and market creation,” Nuruzzaman said.

Achieving this, he acknowledged, will require close collaboration with the Export Promotion Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority.

FBCCI Senior Vice President Md Amin Helaly pledged the organisation’s support in facilitating increased exports through participation in foreign trade fairs. He stressed, however, the importance of raising awareness among Bangladeshis about the country’s diverse and promising products.

The meeting concluded with an open discussion where participants expressed keen interest in organising and participating in various sectoral fairs, both domestically and internationally, under the FBCCI’s umbrella.

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Ambassador Imran: Legal Remittance Key to Bangladesh’s Growth

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Bangladesh’s Ambassador to the United States (US), Muhammad Imran, has urged Bangladeshi expatriates to send remittances through legal channels to further strengthen the country’s economy. He also encouraged them to showcase the country’s success stories to enhance its image abroad.

Speaking as the chief guest at the Customers’ Gathering and SECI App Campaign of Sonali Exchange at the Bangabandhu Auditorium of the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington DC on Friday evening, Ambassador Imran emphasized the importance of sending remittances legally.

The event, jointly organized by the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington DC and Sonali Exchange, a subsidiary company of Sonali Bank, aimed to raise awareness about sending remittances to Bangladesh through legal channels.

Sonali Bank’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director, Md. Afzal Karim, attended the event as a special guest, while Devasree Mitra, CEO of Sonali Exchange Company Incorporation, USA, delivered the welcome address.

Ambassador Imran highlighted Bangladesh’s significant progress across all sectors over the past decade and a half under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. He emphasized the positive achievements and changes that have occurred in the country during this period.

Imran stressed the importance of sharing Bangladesh’s success stories globally, believing that doing so would elevate the country’s stature on the international stage. He noted Bangladesh’s victorious history, achieved through the Liberation War under the leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Bangabandhu’s vision of establishing “Sonar Bangla” (Golden Bengal) free from hunger and poverty remains a driving force for the nation, Imran stated, expressing confidence that Bangladesh is steadily progressing towards this goal.

The event saw participation from a large number of expatriate Bangladeshis residing in Washington DC and its neighboring states. Counsellor and Head of Chancery Shamima Yeasmin Smrite conducted the proceedings.

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