- EU and Saudi Arabia show interest in Bangladesh’s jute
- Despite reaching 135 countries, jute earnings stand at $912 million.
- Bangladesh names jute “Product of the Year 2023,” aligning with PM’s revival plans
- State Minister seeks global support, positioning jute as the “fibre of the future”
- 5-point plan promotes eco-jute, fair trade, research, design, and jute as a sustainable choice
- Ambassador highlights FDI, R&D, branding, and €50 million EU jute exports, backing SMEs
Jute has been Bangladesh’s major cash crop since early 19th century, it is also known as golden fiber and Bangladesh is globally famous for its signature crop jute. The jute industry is a historically and culturally important industry in Bangladesh that dates back to the rise of the East India Company in the Indian subcontinent. Despite once being one of the country’s largest industries and a major export product, the jute industry has declined since the 1970s.
Bangladesh’s rich textile heritage, driven by the versatile qualities of jute and a strong commitment to eco-friendliness, is not only a source of immense pride but also a significant supplier to the country’s economic growth. As we admire the renaissance of Dhakai Muslin and the splendor of Rajshahi silk, it is evident that Bangladesh’s textile legacy is not just a thing of the past but a beacon for the future, where tradition meets innovation, and economic prosperity meets environmentally sustainable.
In a groundbreaking move, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs orchestrated an unprecedented showcase of Bangladesh’s quintessential product through an exhibition and fashion extravaganza. This initiative marked a pivotal moment as the European Union and Saudi Arabia expressed keen interest in amplifying Bangladesh’s jute in their markets.
Proposals in Five Points
Addressing the global need for sustainable initiatives, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is eager to collaborate with all invested parties in orchestrating a strategic drive centered on jute, aligning with the UNGA Resolution. Our vision entails integrating jute prominently into the ‘Branding Bangladesh’ narrative within the framework of sustainable development, equitable trade, and environmental stewardship,” conveyed the state minister.
Extending an open invitation to our international allies, he delineated five precise recommendations aimed at fostering symbiotic alliances:
- Advocate jute as an environmentally friendly substitute for non-biodegradable materials, reinforcing our collective dedication to a nature-forward world.
- Uphold free and equitable trade in jute and its derivatives, bolstering the livelihoods of jute cultivators and entrepreneurs, the true guardians of this distinctive natural asset.
- Allocate resources towards research and innovation to cultivate stress-resistant jute strains and elevate the value of jute-based products, unlocking its full potential.
- Support the refinement of product design and processing methodologies for raw jute, focusing on enhancing quality, minimizing wastage, and curbing pollution.
- Disseminate awareness about jute as a viable sustainable choice among global youth, presenting its versatility in textiles, packaging, furnishings, and paper as a conscious lifestyle option.
Strategic Shift in Jute Exports
EU Head of Delegation in Dhaka, Ambassador Charles Whiteley, expressed surprise at the limited €50 million worth of jute exports to the EU, despite the inherent strengths of durability and sustainability that should naturally appeal to the European market.
He emphasized the growing significance of sustainability and circular economy regulations in the EU, underscoring these as potential selling points for jute products. Whiteley highlighted the importance of FDI, research and development, and effective branding as pivotal factors.
Furthermore, he referenced a 2022 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Netherlands and the Centre for Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries aimed at aiding Bangladeshi SMEs in exporting new products, particularly in home furnishings and textiles, to the European market. Whiteley stressed the need for more such agreements with European nations, fostering a policy framework and dedicated support for SMEs.
Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador in Dhaka, Essa bin Yousef Al Duhailan, expressed the Kingdom’s readiness to back Bangladesh’s initiatives to promote jute products, encouraging exploration of new markets beyond traditional ones like the EU and Turkey, such as the Gulf and Asian markets.
Sameer Sattar, President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, highlighted exporters’ lack of awareness regarding potential markets, urging Bangladesh embassies to offer support in this aspect.
In addition, Sheikh Nasir Uddin, director of Bangladesh Jute Spinners Association, emphasized the necessity of policy support over incentives during the panel discussion.
The Road Ahead
As Bangladesh forges ahead, the focus on jute heralds a promising path. The convergence of tradition and innovation, paired with strategic global collaborations, ensures that this golden fiber doesn’t merely adorn history books but flourishes as a sustainable, economic powerhouse in the world stage.
The exhibition wasn’t just a display of jute products; it was a testament to Bangladesh’s commitment to sustainability, innovation, and a future where tradition meets progress.
“Product of the Year 2023”
In the era of independent Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s administration took charge of jute factories left behind by their previous owners of Pakistani origin.
However, the global proliferation of synthetic alternatives like plastic caused a gradual decline in the significance of jute within the worldwide packaging and carpet sectors.
Responding to this challenge, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina initiated a comprehensive array of policy and financial measures aimed at rejuvenating the struggling jute industry.
In a significant move to showcase support, she officially designated jute as the product of the year in 2023, further symbolizing her commitment by personally donning sarees crafted from this resilient and eco-friendly material.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Md Shahriar Alam, emphasized the significance of international support to amplify the visibility of jute within global markets, coinciding with the government’s prestigious declaration of jute as the “Product of the Year 2023.”
“The extensive range of solutions, from high-value activated charcoal to advanced applications like geo-textiles, derived from jute, underscores our responsibility to widely disseminate this knowledge. It is imperative that we capitalize on this opportunity to position jute as the ‘fibre of the future’ in alignment with the global pursuit of a green growth strategy,” said state minister.
Despite Bangladesh’s extensive export of jute products to 135 countries, including major markets like the US, Europe, Australia, and South Korea, the total earnings amount to a relatively modest $912 million.
Bangladesh’s Jute Dominance Goes Global
Amid the era of sustainable progress, the Jute Directorate is vigorously involved in amplifying the international appeal for environmentally conscious jute and its derivatives. Their initiatives encompass a holistic strategy, extending policy backing to diverse stakeholders—from jute cultivators and product makers to entrepreneurs focusing on versatile jute goods and entities engaged in jute product exports.
Major importing countries include:
- Ivory Coast
- The Republic of Korea
- The United Arab Emirates
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
Bangladesh prides itself on its diverse array of 285 jute products, reaching over 100 countries worldwide. These encompass a wide spectrum, spanning from raw jute, jute hessian, bags, and ropes to carpets, mats, household items, and more, including innovative applications like jute stick charcoal, derived from approximately 3 million jute sticks produced annually. Projections suggest Bangladesh stands to achieve substantial export potential, estimated between USD 3.0 to 3.5 billion, from the utilization of jute stick-based charcoal within this industry.