Modern float glass units to make debut in Jan

Bangladesh enters the glass age in January next year when two modern float glass industries with each having Tk 3.00 billion (300 crore) investment hit the market with full force.

The PHP Glass Industry at Sitakundu in Chittagong and the Nasir Glass Industry at Sripur in Gazipur will have an annual capacity to produce more than 80,000 tons of flat glass per year, almost equal to the existing demand of the country.The construction work of the two industries is going on in full speed and the industry officials expressed the hope to enter the market by January next year.They further said the two industries will act like trailblazers as not only they would substitute imported glass worth around Tk 5-6 billion a year, but also they will search for the export market abroad.
"We have two advantages over China, the biggest flat glass exporters in the region. We have silica sand at Chouddagram and Netrokona and have abundant gas as raw materials," said Dr. Abdus Salam, a director at the Nasir Glass Industry and the country's only expert on flat glass, while talking to the FE Thursday.
"Besides, Bangladesh has a bilateral trade agreement with Bhutan under which we can import dolomite, feldspur and limestone, the main raw materials of glass, at a cheaper rate. Together, these advantages make us a prospective industrial hub for flat glass industry," Salam claimed.
Though there is an initial concern over the full use of their capacity, industry officials said their big investment would bear fruit in the long run.
Salam, an American and UK-trained expert, said the two industries would first target the domestic market as already glass use in the construction sector has been witnessing more than 15-25 per cent growth annually over the last few years.
"At present, the demand is 200-250 tons per day. Compared to other countries, it's a modest figure. But we have surveyed the demand scenario by scrutinising the import data. And it shows an impressive growth," Salam added.
Hefzatur Rahman, a general manager at the PHP Group, a Chittagong-based industrial conglomerate, said the PHP Glass would be bigger than the Nasir Glass. The company has an initial capacity of more than 40,000 tons per annum.
"Like Nasir Glass we are using the same float glass technology, which is the latest in the world. We have employed Chinese experts for doing the initial set-up," Rahman said.
Rahman further said that the arrival of the two industries would make flat glass cheaper in the local market as they estimated that they could supply glass at a price 20-30 per cent less than that of the imported glass.
Salam, however, cautioned that everything would depend on the price of gas. "If per unit gas remains the same over the next couple of years, we can easily capture the domestic market. If otherwise, it would be hard for the industries to compete with imported Chinese glass."
Salam, who also worked in Usmania and MEB Glass, the country's oldest glass industries, said once the Nasir Glass and the PHP enter the fray, both Usmania and MEB would find it difficult to compete.
"There is simply no hope for Usmania and MEB as they use Four Cault technology that dates back to 1913. There is no way they can compete with float glass technology, which is the most modern technology in the world."
For export, Salam said they are making inquiries into prospective market. "If we can compete with China in price, the whole world is up for grabbing. If we succeed in the export market, it would pave the way for more float glass factories in Bangladesh."
Hefzatur Rahman of the PHP, however, thinks that home will be the main battleground for its products. "We think there is a huge untapped market here in Bangladesh. If we can explore it fully, we can recoup our investment in just a few years of time."

600450 Modern float glass units to make debut in Jan

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