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Saifur Rahman
The Bangladesh furniture industry is looking forward to a thumping future in terms of export and manufacturing, having already gained dominance in the global market.
It is hoped that within five years, the sector will reach a strong and respectable position in the global market for its quality and powerful global marketing strategies.
The industry has achieved a significant growth with more than 40 companies exporting furniture to 48 countries, including the Middle East, a major buyer.
Export of furniture made a significant growth of 20.27 percent year-on-year to $63.18 million against the preset target $61 million in the just-concluded fiscal. In FY17, the earning was $52.53 million, according to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).
This rising trend in export suggests that Bangladesh has a huge potential to increase exports of furniture to international markets, provided necessary measures are taken to comply with the market-specific quality standards.
Salim H Rahman, general secretary of Bangladesh Furniture Exporters Association, told Bangladesh Post “The main reason behind the export growth is that we have low-cost labour, which lowers our cost of production.
“So we can offer high quality products at competitive prices. We have been organising furniture fairs over the last 4 years to attract foreign buyers. Our government is giving 15 percent cash incentive in furniture export. That’s why, the exports have increased,” he said.
Moreover, there is an increasing demand for hand-carved wooden furniture in the US, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
They prefer furniture designed in the Victorian style, hand-carved and heavy furniture, which is the dominant production style of carpenters in Bangladesh,” he added.
Rahman further said the furniture market could be further expanded, both at home and abroad, by blending technology, skilled manpower, quality raw materials and designs.
Seventeen members of the BFEA export furniture. Otobi, Akhtar, Hatil, Brothers, Partex, Navana, and Furnitec are the major players. Apart from these member companies, there are some more companies that export furniture to the neighboring countries.
At present, approximately 85000 enterprises and nearly two lakh skilled and semi-skilled people are engaged in this sector.
On an average, 60 percent raw materials for furniture sector are imported from different countries. Of these, timber, wood coating materials, hardware and accessories, and world class fabrics etc, are the major imported items.
This sector has some mentionable problems such as high import duties on some raw materials like good fabrics, finishing/coating materials, hardware and accessories, and shortage of electricity/gas etc.