Jute millers seek levy on raw jute export

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File photo of farmers carrying raw jute bales after harvesting at a village in Bangladesh Dhaka Tribune

They said jute cultivation had witnessed more than a 30% fall in the season due to cyclone Amphan and the Covid-19 pandemic

Private jute mills owners, especially in the small and medium categories, on Wednesday expressed their fears about  a halt in production owing to a shortage in supply of raw jute caused by cyclone Amphan and the coronavirus pandemic, which hit the industry badly.

Besides, they called for imposing at least $250  in supplementary duty on per metric ton of raw jute export to ensure uninterrupted raw material supply for domestic jute mills.

Leaders of the Bangladesh Jute Mills Association (BJMA) and the Bangladesh Jute Spinners Association (BJSA) voiced the demand at a press conference at Lakeshore Hotel in the capital on Wednesday.  

They said jute cultivation had witnessed more than a 30% fall in the season due to cyclone Amphan and the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Their assumption is that jute production might come down to only 55 lakh bales this year, lower by 30-35% or 20 lakh bales compared to the average annual jute production of 75 lakh bales.

The private millers demanded a  ban on export of uncut Bangla Tossa Rejection and Bangla White Rejection raw jute to ensure an adequate supply of raw materials to local factories.

Mohammed Mahbubur Rahman Patwari, Chairman of BJMA, said local mills would not get the required quantities of raw jute to continue their production throughout the year if export was not discouraged as farming of raw jute had dropped significantly this year due to late cultivation, drought and flooding. 

Leaders of the sector said the government should discourage the export of raw jute to save the local industry. 

The private millers also urged the government to impose at least $250 in supplementary duty on the export of a metric ton of raw jute, to ensure uninterrupted supply of raw materials for the survival of the local jute mills industry.

Otherwise, they feared that utility costs might push them into shutting down   production.

“We would lose international buyers of jute goods if production was hampered due to scarcity of raw jute,’’ he said, adding that local exporters might also lose their competitiveness due to higher prices of raw jute.

He warned, “Local jute mills will face a severe crisis of raw jute from January or February next year unless the demands are met”.

At the press conference, Md. Zahid Miah, Chairman of BJSA, said the prices of raw jute had increased up to Tk2,800 per belt mound following  a gap in demand and supply.

He also said higher prices of raw jute would push up the cost of production of jute products and the country might lose the export market of finished jute goods due to the high cost of production and shortage of raw jute, which was the main raw material for the industry. 

Bangladesh Jute Goods Exporters Association Chairman M Sajjad Hussain Sohel , Vice-Chairman of BJSA Farian Yusuf, Director of Gemcon Group and member of the BJSA Kazi Inam Ahmed, Director of BJSA Mohammed Nazmul Huq, Moniruzzaman and Rashedul Karim Munna, CEO of Creation Private Limited, were present at the press conference. 

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