BANGLADESH: Special industrial zone for plastic factories

The move comes after the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific of the United Nations has recently asked the government to set up a separate economic zone for the plastic

At present, around 1,200 unplanned plastic factories, most of which are unauthorised, operate in Dhaka.

"A special industrial zone will be built to bring more discipline to the sector and to generate more exports,” Barua said.

Bangladesh could emerge as a major player in the global plastic market if it manages to increase its turnover to $2 billion by 2015 and $4 billion by 2020, according to a UN case study.

But for that, the country has to address three issues on a priority basis -- infrastructure, waste
management and recycling, and skills development, the study says.

Plastic products represent a sizeable sub-sector in the chemical industry, with a market size of around $1 billion, $714 million of which is thanks to the domestic market.

The industries ministry has conferred the thrust sector status to the plastic industry, Barua said, while adding that the ministry is working to make the industry as environmentally friendly as possible.

"The government is ready to give any kind of policy support to the sector as it has enormous potential.”

Md Jasim Uddin, president of Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said the policy and infrastructure support would be welcome as the sector looks to break into the global market.

The growth rate for the last 20 years has averaged at more than 20 percent, said Jasim, also a first vice-president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).

"The plastic sector has around 3,000 manufacturing units that offer jobs to more than 2 million people directly and indirectly,” said Shahedul Islam, a former president of the association.

All basic raw materials are imported as the country does not have polymer industry yet, he said.

Najmul Hossain, the country representative of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, said the government should give policy support to develop this sector. "The export market of this sector is very large.”

They spoke at a public-private dialogue on "Promoting Development of the Plastic Sector of Bangladesh”, organised by the FBCCI in partnership with Friedrich Naumann Foundation, at Dhaka's Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel.

Source: "The Daily Star", Dhaka; 2 Oct 2012

(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)