Dull business frustrates foreign participants at DITF

The foreign participants of the month-long Dhaka International Trade Fair, the country’s largest and most vibrant showcasing event, experienced a ‘very dull’ business due to the ongoing political instability compelling them to rethink about their future plan.
A number of foreign participants at the fair venue shared their experiences with the news agency with grave frustrations though some of the local participants were upbeat about their business.
‘To me, it’s totally frustrating… I’ve got very poor feedback so far from the fair,’ Akbar Javan, a participant from Iran, said.
Javan said he had also come to Bangladesh last year to explore business opportunities and found positive signals to be there. ‘So, I participated in the fair for the first time, but hartal and blockade have apparently ruined my business here. Even life isn’t safe outside the fair venue. I see busses being burnt,’ he said.
Responding to a question, Javan of the Iranian Pavilion said he might not come next year unless political situation improves.
Pakistani participant Rahim Baksh, representing Kashmir Handicrafts Company, also came up with similar sentiment and said they were upset over the poor respond from the visitors. ‘You see, I left my stall, and is chatting with my friends here as there’s no customer,’ said a frustrated Rahim.
Asked whether the extension of the fair time will help them get business, he said it would not help them that much. ‘A five-day extension would be fair enough, but customers know about the extension and are waiting for last-minute deals.’
Responding to another question, the Pakistani participant said their per-day sales volume was only Tk 10,000 to Tk 20,000. ‘Customers bargain to get a product of Tk 3000 at Tk 500 on Tk 1000.’
An Indian participant said they were not satisfied with the business feedback receiving from the fair so far. ‘We understand, this dull business is due to political situation,’ the young salesman from Kashmir – Kashmir Heritage Company Limited – said wishing not to be quoted.
He said they had been, mainly his brother, taking part in the DITF for the last 15 years and wished to come again next year.
Responding to a question, he said they were doing comparatively better business if they compare with other stalls as they have quality products. ‘Our daily transaction varies from Tk 20-50 thousand.’
However, a local participant representing Walton expressed satisfaction as they had got a chance to meet a diverse group of customers at the fair apart from fetching some foreign orders from Spain, Europe and Australia.
‘We’re not saying that we’re doing better than that of previous year. Our satisfaction is we have been able to bring all products under the same roof for our customers which is not possible in a single showroom,’ Walton Pavilion manager M Akramuzzaman Apu said.
He said they were not concentrating on sales volume rather trying to give information about their products so that the customers could come and buy at their convenient time. ‘We’re happy to interact with the customers directly.’
The Export Promotion Bureau, the organiser of the fair under the commerce ministry, expressed satisfaction over the visitors’ turnout at the fair.
‘We’re happy. The feedback is good. Huge people are visiting the fair,’ EPB vice-chairman Shubhashish Bose said.
The EPB and the commerce ministry usually come with data based on
Maruboshi Europe BV in Bangladesh shared their experience with the participants about the overall business atmosphere in Bangladesh.
Rene Beerepoot of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency made a presentation on Dutch assistance for firms to expand their business in Bangladesh.
He said there is a Dutch fund of 750 million Euro for Dutch businesses willing to expand their business in the world’s 66 countries including Bangladesh. Dutch SMEs, if approved, could receive low interest loan for up to 10 to 15 million Euro for expansion of business in Bangladesh, he added.
While sharing experience, Peter Van Bergen said he found the commitment of the people of Bangladesh as highly praiseworthy and also he found the level of spoken English very satisfactory.
He said he found working in Bangladesh ‘easier’ compared to other countries.
Vicenta Ariza said he found ‘commitment’ and ‘enthusiasm’ of the people of Bangladesh unparallel. Expressing his plan to stay in Bangladesh at least next 10-15 years, he said despite ‘strike’ or ‘hartal’ his shippers in Bangladesh never failed to deliver.

-With New Age input

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