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India`s anti-dumping duty on jute goods ill planned

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BANGLADESH jute goods exporters see no hope of withdrawal of anti-dumping duty imposed by India on jute goods from Bangladesh as the deadline for legal battle ended on April 5 with no local exporters, except one, filing appeals, as per a report of a local daily.

On the other hand, the visit of PM Sheikh Hasina has not brought any hope for jute exporters as India did not make any specific decision on the issue. The government will also have to wait for at least one year for seeking review of the decision in line with the anti-dumping duty law.

BJSA and BJMA have no information whether any exporter filed appeal or not as no exporter apprised the associations. Indian Finance Ministry on January 5 imposed the duty following an investigation of India's Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) for alleged dumping of the products in the Indian market by Bangladeshi exporters.

The decision hit hard Bangladesh's jute products like yarn, twine, sacks, bags and fabrics export to its neighbouring country as overall export slumped 52 per cent to 6,872 tones in January and 37 per cent to 6,155 tones in February compared with the same months in last year. Many believe that India has imposed the duty to force Bangladesh to export raw jute for Indian jute mills to run their plants. With huge trade gap such step by the Indian government is not a friendly act that the policy makers in Delhi should know.  
Former vice-president of BJSA said that exporters thought that the issue would be solved politically during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India. So, exporters did not file appeal though some exporters initially considered filing appeal, as per the report. Experts and exporters said that only new shippers could seek exemption from the duty arguing that they would not export during the period of investigation.

It was wishful thinking that the BJSA and BJMA thought that the problem would be solved magically during PM's visit - but unfortunately that has not occurred. PM Modi  has only assured her of looking into the problem. But since the deadline for legal action has gone away there is nothing that can be done for the next year.

Our jute sector, once the golden sector earning almost 80 percent of our foreign exchange, has been in the doldrums for long. We have done little to uplift the image of jute in the international market despite the fibre being one of the best eco-friendly materials for use in packing food and other items. It is biodegradable and does not create pollution when dumped, making it an ideal product for export.

We can make jute bags, cloth, domestic items like sofa covers and many other items from the golden fibre. It is time that we think of ways to reinvent the use of jute for increasing our earning from it domestically and abroad.

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