Country's steel export, mainly semi-finished casting products, is on the rise despite Covid-19 pandemic as the export soared 74.31 percent year-on-year during the July-March period of the current fiscal 2020-21 (FY21).
The sector earned US$83.57 million during the July-March period of FY21, up by US$35.67 million from the FY20, according to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).
During the period, export of copper wire witnessed a 54.14 percent rise and the country earned US$34.99 million against $22.70 million of the FY21.
"The export increased due to a leading steel maker exporting around 45,000 tonnes of billet during the pandemic which showed a big jump in steel export," said Bangladesh Steel Mills Owners Association (BSMOA) President Manwar Hossain.
The export destinations are mainly the United Arab Emirates, India, Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, Pakistan and Myanmar.
Of the export, $10 million worth of goods went to China in July-January period of the FY21.
Bangladesh's steel mills primarily import scrap metal to produce the intermediate casting products which need further processing to be turned into finished goods.
The industry deals with ferrous waste and scrap, re-melted ingots and products made from such metal of all shapes and sizes such as angles, rods, plates and pipes.
Tapan Sengupta, deputy managing director of Bangladesh Steel Re-Rolling Mills, said Bangladesh's steel mills export by-products which they themselves cannot make use of including air pollution control dust and parts of scrapped ships such as propellers.
He said the ferrous waste and scrap were exported to India, China, Taiwan etc.
As for finished products, he said Bangladesh had attained quality of international standard but not export volumes as per expectations. Though some were exported to north east India, the amount is very insignificant, he said.
Shahriar Jahan Rahat, deputy managing director of Kabir Steel Re-Rolling Mills Group, said there was no scope of exporting finished steel as the millers were capable of only catering to local demand.
He said the sector was dependent on import of raw materials.
Rahat said Bangladesh's annual consumption had risen by 15 per cent to 20 per cent between 2017 and 2019 whereas earlier it was increasing by some 10 per cent.
Rod consumption reached about 6 million tonnes in 2019 while the sector has an installed annual production capacity of about 110 million tonnes.
There are about 40 active manufacturers with a combined capacity to produce nine million tonnes of steel a year. Of them, Abul Khair Steel, GPH Steel, BSRM and KSRM meet more than half of the annual demand of eight million tonnes.