Indian automakers eye more of Bangladesh market

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - Indian automotive manufacturers will hold an exposition in Dhaka towards the end of the year with a view to winning over Bangladeshi buyers.

Indian automotive manufacturers will hold an exposition in Dhaka towards the end of the year with a view to winning over Bangladeshi buyers, said a top official of the neighbouring country's apex trade body for the sector.

“We consider Bangladesh as an important destination,” said Debasish Majumder, director of trade fairs of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).

In 2016, a total of 0.42 million vehicles were registered in Bangladesh, up 31.25 percent from a year earlier, according to the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority.

The auto expo will be held in November or December, and if there is a political uprising it will be pushed back to February next year, he said.

SIAM had organised a similar fair last year in Dhaka -- the Indo-Bangla Automotive Show 2017 -- to showcase products manufactured by its members and members of Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India.

Majumder's comments came in an interview with The Daily Star on the sidelines of the 14th Auto Expo that began on February 9 in Greater Noida, India.

The biennial event, which is Asia's largest and the world's second largest motor show, has been organised by SIAM, Confederation of Indian Industries and Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India. The event concludes on February 14.

Brands like BMW, Daimler, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Renault, Hyundai, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Mercedes Benz, Skoda, Volkswagen, Toyota, Nissan and Piaggio have production bases in India and are all members of SIAM.

Majumder said almost all the demand for motorcycles in Bangladesh is met by Indian manufacturers.

More than 3.5 lakh units of motorbikes are sold in Bangladesh each year, according to industry insiders.

Almost the entire demand is met by imports; only Runner Automobiles manufactures locally, about 40,000 units a year.

Bangladesh imports $2.01 billion worth of vehicles including motorbikes, trucks, passenger vehicles and small pick-ups in a year.

 The demand for automobiles in Bangladesh is $2.5 billion, according to data from the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority.

The 100 percent tax on vehicle import in Bangladesh is too high for exporters, Majumder said, adding that if the tax rate is lowered more people will afford cars.

“Car ownership is no more a luxury. For instance, people in remote hilly areas will have to starve to death if they do not have any vehicle to carry foodstuff up to them.”

Many people have a wrong concept that more vehicles mean more air pollution, he said, citing the case in India, where only 16 percent of air pollution is caused by vehicles.

“Air pollution from cars has been going down because of innovations.”  A total of 24 new models were launched in this year's Auto Expo and almost all of them are pollution-free as they were manufactured following the latest technologies, he said.

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