Friday, June 14, 2024

Foreign businesses avoiding B’desh as their destination

The arrival of foreigners, mostly business representatives and apparel buyers, into the country has dropped sharply in 2013, causing an adverse impact on the country’s over US$22 billion apparel industry, according to a report prepared by the government security agency concerned.
People familiar with this aspect said arrivals of buyers or their representatives in the country have dropped mainly due to political unrest that of late has become intense.
The number of foreigners arriving by air came down to 304,132 in the first nine month of the current calendar year as against the arrival of a total of 616,683 foreigners in 2012, according to a report prepared by Special Branch (SB) of police.
Commenting on the falling trend of foreigners visiting the country, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed told the FE that overseas buyers and suppliers were avoiding the country due to political programmes.
“They (foreigners) will not be able to visit factories and meet with their target people. So they are avoiding the country,” Mr Ahmed said.
“Tell me who will visit the country after looking at scenes of chaos on city streets in their televisions at home,” he added.
Garment industry insiders said the buyers are now asking them to travel to Hong Kong or Thailand to meet them.
“My buyers have asked me to meet them in Thailand as they were scared of political programmes,” Ha-Meem Group chairman AK Azad told the FE.
Chittagong Denim Mills Director Rahmat Ullah told the FE that meeting with foreign buyers outside the country has a negative impact on the industry.
“Let alone financial involvement, we lose valuable time if we are to visit Hong Kong or any other country to meet the buyers or suppliers,” he said.
“None has visited my factory at Sreepur in Gazipur in the last two months,” he said, adding, “we used to meet at least one buyer group each month when a peaceful environment prevailed.”
“I’ve failed to visit our office in Chittagong over the last three weeks. So how can I expect a foreign buyer to visit my country,” Ullah added.
This situation has also been adversely affecting the country’s hotels and other hospitality properties.
Sources at the city’s hotels told the FE that the rate of occupancy dropped sharply in the recent days.
Marketing and communication manager Md Shahidus Sadeque of Ruposhi Bangla Hotel (formerly Dhaka Sheraton) said the occupancy rate has dropped by 50 per cent in recent months.
“This is the peak time for arrival of foreigners in the country,” he said, adding, “many who had earlier booked rooms with us are cancelling their bookings.”
Officials of different airlines operating to Bangladesh said no airline has yet reviewed its frequencies but they will do so if the current situation persists.
According to the SB report, 725,943 foreigners visited Bangladesh by air in 2011 when there was no political tension in the country.
The number of arrivals at land ports also dropped sharply in 2013.

Courtesy of The Financial Express

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