Narinjara News

Bangladeshi fertilizer for Burma

Dhaka, 12th March:  Burma will import one hundred thousand tons of urea fertilizer from Bangladesh while it will export rice of corresponding value to Bangladesh, it was learnt from a number of newspapers and agencies of news in Dhaka.

The Government of Bangladesh has proposed to sell off the surplus amount of fertilizer in this regard to Burma.  It is expected that, the deal will be finalized when the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Begum Khaleda Zia visits Rangoon shortly.  On the other hand the two Ministries of Trade of both the countries will finalize the necessary formalities of the export-import deal.  The proposal of the deal has been forwarded to the relevant authorities in Burma who have been reportedly expressed their consent to work out all the details of the agreement.

When the premiere of Bangladesh visits Burma on 19th this month on a three day tour, agreements on bilateral accounts trade, formalities in setting up of a joint trade commission and completion of a coastal trading deal will be finalized.  At the same time a second and single-country Bangladesh Trade Fair will be inaugurated in the capital Rangoon.  The proposed deal of the exchange of fertilizer with rice from Burma will also be finalized then.

Bangladesh has suffered a recent shortfall in its rice production: especially its late autumn harvest fell far short of the expected output last year.    The proposed exchange of fertilizer with rice has been made to ward off the deficit, the sources said.  The government of Bangladesh made inquiries to Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) whether there would be any surplus production of fertilizer after meeting the local demand in the present winter-season when the third and last harvest of rice is made in a traditional solar year beginning in mid-April.  BCIC informed the government about its surplus of 100,000 tons of fertilizer in the present rice season, due to the drop in the demand for fertilizer this year.  Though the demand for urea suddenly went up by the end of February, at least 100,000 tons of urea fertilizer would be sold less than the projected sales target for this year, they said, besides the production of all the urea fertilizer factories in the country are going on at full swing.  As a result a surplus production of 300,000 tons of urea fertilizer by the end of the next fiscal year is expected even after the export to Burma is made. 

Before this in 1994  95 the government of Bangladesh exported fertilizer to Burma, which sparked off an acute fertilizer crisis in the country.   The export of fertilizer is going to be made from the Chittagong Urea Fertilizer factory where there is a surplus production.  At present the price of a ton of the fertilizer is US$155 in the international market, which is equal to taka 10,000 in the local Bangladeshi market.  BCIC would earn a profit of taka 520 million by exporting the same amount of fertilizer, but the present foreign currency crisis in Burma has forced the country to go for exchanging rice for fertilizer, it was learnt. 

Meanwhile the smuggling of urea fertilizer across the Naaf River from Teknaf in Bangladesh to Maungdaw on the western Burma is so rampant that both the countries have practically failed to stop the illegal traffic, which is also conducted by the time-honoured bartering method.  During the peak demand season of urea the sale recorded stood at 354,562 ton against the expected sales target of 358,500 tons.  The winter rice had to be delayed this year for inclement weather compelling the farmers to go for plantation by the end of February instead of January, according to the Janakamtha, a Bengali paper.

Many of the traders have expressed their opinion that the demand for urea will continue till April as the plantation season has been delayed.  A high official from BCIC said that the fertilizer factories across the country are running at their full production capacity that will break the last ten years’ production record, which will increase the production beyond the set target.   For this reason the import of the fertilizer has been drastically cut down.  The target for this year’s import of urea was set at 400,000 ton.  But due to decreased demand the import has been restricted to 300,000 tons, while about 260,000 tons of urea has already been imported into Bangladesh, he said.  #