The government has imposed a ban on export of raw jute to ensure smooth supply of the natural fibre to local mills, which are facing troubles because of rising prices of jute amid increased demand of jute goods in the international market.
"Considering the importance of ensuring availability of raw jute in the domestic market, the government has imposed the ban until further notification," said a circular of the Ministry of Textile and Jute issued on Monday.
The raw jutes that are already at the port awaiting shipment will also come under the ban.
People involved in jute industries lauded the government move saying it will greatly help stabilise the volatile prices of raw jute, which they think was created artificially.
"Jute prices went as high as Tk 1700 a maund, which is unusually high," said Bangladesh Jute Mills Association (BJMA) President Najmul Huq. This price is still tolerable but if it goes beyond that then the millers could not sustain, he noted.
Bangladesh's raw jute production was estimated to be 55 lakh bales this year, but there is no exact data on it. The domestic demand of raw jute is around 35 lakh bales. According to local demand, there is not supposed to be any crisis, industry sources said.
Meanwhile, jute traders, exporters and workers in Khulna put up barricades on Khulna-Jessore highway at Daulatpur from 11:00am to 12:00 noon yesterday protesting the ban. They also brought out a procession, reports our staff correspondent from Khulna.
At a meeting in Daulatpur Bangladesh Jute Association (BJA) Chairman Sheikh Faruque Hossain said there are over ten lakh bales of exportable raw jute in their warehouses at Daulatpur. Besides, over 200 bales of raw jute are lying at Mongla port for shipment.
Thousands of workers employed by the jute traders will lose their jobs, while the country will be deprived of foreign currency, traders said at the meeting.
Jute industrialists, however, said exports of jute products fetch in many times more foreign currency than the export of raw jute.
Of the 160 jute and jute spinning mills in the country, around 30 are closed and a similar number operate irregularly, while about 100 are in full operation now.