Plastics processors from Hong Kong, China and Thailand are forming joint ventures in Bangladesh so they can export products tax-free to markets in Europe and the United States.
Plastics exports into Middle Eastern markets also enjoy tax concessions, according to Mohamad Jashim Uddin, president of the Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers & Exporters Association in Dhaka.
A delegation of Malaysian plastics industry executives plans to visit Dhaka in December to explore potential business partnerships, Mohamad Jashim said in an interview at the M-Plas show, an international plastics and rubber trade fair held March 29 to April 1 in Kuala Lumpur.
Bangladesh claims more than 3,000 plastics processors, including about 200 that sell products like bags, buttons and hangers to Bangladesh's export-oriented garment industry. That industry's annual shipments are about $10 billion.
Mohamad Jashim said Bangladesh exported a total of $130 million in plastics products last year.
Another growing market in the country is in plastics packaging for pharmaceuticals, a relatively new application. Mohamad Jashim said some plastic product manufacturers in Bangladesh already are certified to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards.
Though Bangladesh has been going through political turmoil for the past several years, Mohamad Jashim said he sees strong indications that the current government is pro-business, and that the country is ready for foreign direct investment.
``The caretaker government has recently relaxed the ban on the use of plastics bags in the country, which was imposed by the government in 2002,'' he said.
Plastic bags previously were blamed for clogging the country's sewage and drainage systems.
Mohamad Jashim said the country is offering a growing number of business parks and trade processing zones for 100 percent export-oriented manufacturers.
Bangladesh also offers natural gas resources that manufacturers can use to generate electricity for 3-4 cents per kilowatt hour, he said.
The Bangladesh plastics industry consumes about 1.3 billion pounds of virgin resin annually and collects 600 million to 880 million pounds of waste plastics a year for recycling. The capital city of Dhaka, with a population of 20 million, is the main hub for collecting plastic.
The Bangladesh plastics trade group is preparing to host the International Plastics Fair next year in Dhaka, set for Jan. 26-28, Mohamad Jashim said.