The government has set a target to export plastic goods worth USD60.80 million in the first eight months, from July to February, of the current fiscal 2016-17. However, according to the latest data of Export Promotion Bureau, during the period, plastics export was USD82.37 million. The export is up by 35.48 percent in the current fiscal year. Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BPGMEA) source said it would be possible to earn USD2 billion from exporting plastic products. The country has the potential to become a large global player in plastic products, but it is yet to become one, as major challenges like power shortage, lack of skilled manpower, waste management issues, and environmental concerns hinder its growth. Lack of modern technologies and limited capital resources compared to developed nations are currently affecting the level of production. The machinery used to produce plastic too had to be imported from countries such as Thailand or India. Exports of plastic products are relatively smaller compared to imports of raw materials because the manufacturing technologies are not of world standard.
Raw materials import has significantly increased due to growing domestic demand for plastic products, they said. However, to meet substantial domestic demand the country imports over 150,000 tons of plastic raw materials annually and the figure has been rising gradually. Recently, the demand for plastic products in the local market has reached BDT200 billion, whereas four-five years back it was BDT70 billion. The country's average plastic products consumption has also risen significantly, BPGMEA officials said. Md. Jashim Uddin, President of BPGMEA said the plastic products industry contributes 1.20 percent of the country's GDP, with a total investment of BDT185.5 billion. At present, a total of 23 countries in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East are the major export destinations of plastic products. The export-oriented plastic sector does not enjoy similar facilities as enjoyed by other major export-oriented sectors.