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Bangladesh Bans All Raw Jute Exports

In order to sustain its own demand for raw jute, Bangladesh has banned exports on all types of the fiber used to wrap cotton bales and in packaging, chair coverings and carpets.

Bangladesh’s jute ministry issued the decree Thursday, noting that the ban would be in place for an indefinite period. The government imposed a similar ban on Nov. 3, though it was only supposed to last one month.

The South Asian nation produces roughly 1.04 million tons of jute each year, according to The Daily Star, and its domestic consumption is as high as 680,000 bales—more than 65 percent of total production.

Bangladesh is the second biggest producer of jute after India, and according to the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC), there are 205 jute mills in the country, including 81 spinners, which employ more than 156,000 workers.

On average, the country exports more than 36 percent of its jute valued at $128 million each year.

Bangladesh state minister for textiles and jute Mirza Azam, told The Daily Star, “We need an additional 17-19 lakh [1.7 million to 1.9 million] bales in the next nine months if we want to fully implement the jute packaging law.”

To encourage manufacturers to use the eco-friendly and biodegradable fiber instead of the low-cost plastic products that were taking its place, Bangladesh implemented a jute packaging law in 2010 that said all traders and government organizations have to use jute bags to pack rice, wheat, fertilizer and sugar, among other commodities.

But the country hasn’t abided by the “mandatory” law and the government is launching a drive to promote jute-based packaging, and keeping all of the jute in the country is expected to bolster that effort.

Managing director of Bangladesh-based Al-haj Jute Mills Harunoor Rashid, said India, the world’s largest producer of the fiber, consumes 95 percent of its jute and only exports 5 percent.

“Similarly, we can make our own market that will benefit growers, farmers and millers,” Rashid told The Daily Star. “But investment on research and development is a must to expand the local market for jute goods.”