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Bangladesh products expo begins in Riyadh; exporters eye bigger slice of $35b Saudi market


Dec 31, 2010
Bangladesh products expo begins in Riyadh; exporters eye bigger slice of $35b Saudi market


Jasim Uddin
22 February, 2023, 10:35 pm
Last modified: 22 February, 2023, 10:42 pm

A total of 30 companies, mostly from apparel, pharmaceuticals and leather sectors, have participated in the event

Infograph: TBS

Infograph: TBS

Infograph: TBS
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi on Wednesday inaugurated a three-day expo, titled Bangladesh Product Exhibition 2023, in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh, which the Export Promotion Bureau organised to promote Bangladeshi goods in the gulf country.

A total of 30 companies, mostly from apparel, pharmaceuticals and leather sectors, have participated in the event to showcase their capacity and competitiveness, officials and participants told The Business Standard.

"Although Saudi Arabia has over 3 crore people, their purchasing power is very high, which is why we believe our export to the country can be equivalent to that of countries having 10 crore consumers," the minister said at the launching ceremony.

"We still export little to the Saudi market, but we are hopeful that we will be able to have a bigger slice here as we are capable of producing quality products at competitive prices," he said and added that the exhibition will play a key role to boost exports to the country.

Mentioning that Bangladesh, with its apparel goods, is the key exporter to the USA, Tipu Munshi said, "When we started exporting to the USA, we went from one importer to another just to make our products familiar to them. Now, we are doing similar things here [in Saudi Arabia]. We will also make our position here soon."

The minister further added that the demand for Bangladesh goods is increasing in Saudi Arabia and exporters should utilise the opportunities. He called for cooperation from the Saudi government.

Export Promotion Bureau Vice Chairman AHM Ahsan, Bangladesh Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Javed Patwary and BGMEA President Faruque Hassan, among others, were present at the event organised to explore new export markets and reduce dependence on the US and the EU markets.

The exhibition, which will also focus on bringing some Saudi investment to Bangladesh, will continue till 24 February.

Talking to The Business Standard, Bangladeshi exporters said they look to gain a foothold in Saudi Arabia with seven potential products, including food and beverage, apparel, and jute and leather, products which are now sourced from the global market for $35 billion annually.

Ceramics, pharmaceuticals, and plastics also have good demand in this market – where Dhaka currently has a stake of less than $300 million.

The expo organizer Only Entertainment Managing Director Khandaker Redwanur Rashid said, "Our main target is to explore the export potentials for Made in Bangladesh goods in the Saudi market." During the expo, Bangladeshi entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to hold business-to-business meetings with Saudi entrepreneurs, he added.

BGMEA Vice-President Shahidullah Azim, who has participated in the exhibition, told TBS that they consider Saudi Arabia a potential market as it is the centre of the gulf countries. "The country mostly sources its apparel items from China, India, Turkey and other countries. Our export is still nominal despite being the second-largest apparel exporter globally," he said, adding that a huge opportunity in this market is still untapped owing to a lack of government initiative for long.

It will be a big market for other export items, such as home textiles, agricultural products, leather goods, jute and ceramics, he continued.

The government initiative will help them to grab at least $5 to $6 billion market share there, he pointed out. "We already have good export growth in Asian countries as our alternative markets," Shahidullah Azim said.

According to the International Trade Centre (ITC) data, Saudi Arabia's imports stood at $152.34 billion in 2021. China is the KSA's largest source with $31.07 billion in imports, followed by the USA, UAE, India and Germany.

Bangladesh exported $290 million worth of goods to the gulf country in FY22, with 12% growth year-on-year, according to the Export Promotion Bureau. Saudi Arabia is the country's 24th largest export destination.


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