Nepal's grow­ing mar­ket for Bangladeshi goods

People's Review - - NEWS - (Dhaka Tri­bune)

By Ibrahim Hos­sain Ovi : Nepal, an im­port de­pen­dent neigh­bour, has emerged as a po­ten­tial ex­port des­ti­na­tion for Bangladeshi prod­ucts es­pe­cially phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, con­sumers goods and elec­tron­ics items. Stake­hold­ers and ex­porters think sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of the ex­port process and re­duc­ing tax bur­dens can boost trade with the Hi­malayan coun­try. Ac­cord­ing to Ex­port Pro­mo­tion Bureau (EPB) data, ex­ports to Nepal stood at $47.4 mil­lion in FY2016-17, up by 165 , from the last fis­cal, which was $17.88 mil­lion. On the other hand, im­port from Nepal is nearly $10 mil­lion in the same pe­riod. Ac­cord­ing to data from the Nepal Min­istry of Com­merce, de­spite be­ing a close neigh­bour Bangladesh was the 22nd largest source of im­ports for the coun­try in 2017, far be­hind coun­tries like South Africa and Aus­tralia. Bangladesh cur­rently ex­ports veg­eta­bles, fruits, elec­tri­cal and elec­tronic equip­ment, mo­tor­cy­cle, bev­er­ages, wo­ven and knit gar­ments, plas­tics goods, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, fur­ni­ture, juice and other con­sumer goods. In 2017, Nepal spent the most on im­ports of fuel oil, coal, con­struc­tion ma­te­rial, mo­bile phones, mo­tor­cy­cles, rice, corn, cook­ing oil, gold and sil­ver. Ex­port op­por­tu­ni­ties To meet lo­cal de­mands, Nepal de­pends largely on im­ports. In­dia is now dom­i­nat­ing the Nepali mar­ket. But since Nepal is look­ing for al­ter­na­tives to re­place In­dian goods, Bangladesh has an enor­mous op­por­tu­nity to grow. “Nepal as a mar­ket has great po­ten­tial for Bangladeshi prod­ucts. Wal­ton is ex­port­ing in­ter­na­tional stan­dard home ap­pli­ances,” Ro­quibul Is­lam Rakib, head of in­ter­na­tional mar­ket­ing of Wal­ton, said. Ev­ery year, de­mand for Wal­ton ap­pli­ances is grow­ing and the lo­cal brand is reg­is­ter­ing an es­ti­mated 80 of growth in sales, said Rakib. Be­sides home ap­pli­ances, Wal­ton is plan­ning to ex­port its lo­cally made lap­tops and desk­top com­put­ers, mon­i­tors and other ac­ces­sories to Nepal, he added. “In the be­gin­ning it was dif­fi­cult to make peo­ple un­der­stand about Bangladeshi prod­ucts. Now, they like them very much as the prod­ucts en­sure bet­ter ser­vice,” said Naw­shaba An­sari, CEO of Rida In­cor­po­rated Pvt Ltd, sole dis­trib­u­tor of Wal­ton in Nepal. “Right now, we have 200 agents across the coun­try and this year we have sold about 3,500 re­frig­er­a­tors,” she said. She hoped Wal­ton will soon be­come a lead­ing brand in Nepal. Be­sides elec­tron­ics prod­ucts, con­sumer goods and fur­ni­ture are also po­ten­tial prod­ucts, which has al­ready cre­ated buzz among the Nepalese con­sumers open­ing new ex­port av­enue. “We started ex­port­ing fur­ni­ture to Nepal in April last year and cus­tomers have ac­cepted our prod­ucts for their unique de­sign,” Firoz Al Ma­mun, head of mar­ket­ing and sales of Hatil Fur­ni­ture, told the Dhaka Tri­bune. Nepal does not have the man­u­fac­tur­ing base of qual­ity and well de­signed fur­ni­ture. So, there is enor­mous op­por­tu­nity for Bangladeshi man­u­fac­tur­ers. What ex­porters need is pol­icy sup­port in­clud­ing mak­ing cus­toms eas­ier and an agree­ment to en­joy duty free ac­cess to mar­ket, he said. “Con­sid­er­ing the de­mand, we are ex­pand­ing the size and ca­pac­ity of our show­room and plan­ning to open a new one,” Ma­mun added. In the last fis­cal, Bangladesh earned $193,231 from the ex­port of fur­ni­ture and light­ing. “Nepal con­sumers prod­ucts mar­ket is very po­ten­tial for Bangladesh as they have al­most a sim­i­lar taste and cul­ture like ours,” PRAN-RFL Group Mar­ket­ing Di­rec­tor Chowd­hury Kam­ruz­za­man said. There is huge op­por­tu­nity for Bangladesh to ex­port medicine to Nepal as the doc­tors es­pe­cially those who study in Bangladeshi med­i­cal col­leges pre­scribe Bangladeshi prod­ucts. In the last fis­cal year, Bangladesh earned $2.22 mil­lion ex­port­ing phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­ucts, which shows a rapid growth. What is needed to boost ex­ports In ex­plor­ing the mar­ket and tap­ping the vast ex­port op­por­tu­nity, man­u­fac­tur­ers need an ex­port-friendly pol­icy sup­port and re­moval of tax bur­den. “Tax rate and bor­der cross­ing re­main main chal­lenges for the ex­porters. If the govern­ment sim­pli­fies the ship­ment process the ex­port to Nepal will a see a sharp rise. We want to grow there and the mar­ket is in favour of Bangladesh. What needs is to of­fer a bet­ter fa­cil­ity,” said Kam­ruz­za­man. Naw­shaba, an im­porter of elec­tron­ics prod­ucts, said they have to pay higher im­port duty, which is a chal­lenge for ex­pand­ing mar­ket share. She urged gov­ern­ments of both coun­tries to make im­port eas­ier by re­duc­ing im­port duty and non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers. “Bangladeshi goods have made a good start here. Even, I my­self like Bangladeshi prod­ucts es­pe­cially the Pran's con­sumer goods,” Ma­hesh Bas­net, a par­lia­ment mem­ber of Nepal told the Dhaka Tri­bune dur­ing a re­cent meet­ing with a group of jour­nal­ists. “His­tor­i­cally, we are de­pen­dent on In­dia and in 2016 we faced trou­ble in im­port­ing goods from the coun­try. Nepal is look­ing for an al­ter­na­tive source and Bangladesh can be the first choice as it has qual­ity prod­ucts at a rea­son­able price,” he said. Ma­hesh, also a for­mer in­dus­try min­is­ter, said he would talk to busi­ness peo­ple on boost­ing bi­lat­eral trade and take nec­es­sary steps to en­sure more im­port from Bangladesh. Mash­fee Binte Shams, Bangladesh's am­bas­sador to Nepal, said Bangladeshi prod­ucts are very price-com­pet­i­tive in Nepal and ex­porters can take the ad­van­tage to grab mar­ket share. But, the con­sumers are not fa­mil­iar with the prod­ucts. So, the ex­porters along with the lo­cal part­ners have to take steps to brand Bangladesh prod­ucts, he added. On the chal­lenges, the en­voy said that there is higher tax in im­port­ing some of the goods. We are try­ing to re­move the tax bur­den through ne­go­ti­a­tion be­tween com­merce min­istry of two coun­tries.

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