Eyeing the land-locked north-eastern states in India to market cement manufactured in Bangladesh, Dhaka has mounted pressure on India for waiving the mandatory Bureau of Industrial Standard (BIS) certification. The issue assumes greater significance as Bangladesh-based Lafarge Surma Cement project is likely to commence production of 1.2Mt of cement from 2005. Bangladesh is looking at cement exports of about 5Mt to the seven north-eastern states at comparative cost advantage of 10 per cent.
Speaking to FE, Bangladesh’s Board of Investment executive chairman Mahmudur Rahman said, “BIS certification is certainly a non-tariff barrier. We have met Indian minister of state for commerce EVKS Elangovan and requested him to waive the requirement of BIS certification for cement exports.” Instead of a BIS certification, Dhaka has urged the Indian government to allow Bangladesh Standard Testing Institute (BSTI) certified cement in the Indian market. “We have requested the Indian government to send a BIS team to Bangladesh, which will have a first hand idea of our testing facilities and certification process and suggest its requirements. With the change in government, we are expecting a positive response,” he said.
Mr Rahman also invited Indian companies to set up cement plants in Bangladesh. “While Lafarge can set up a plant in Bangladesh and source lime stone from neighbouring Indian state of Meghalaya through a 17 km-long conveyor belt, why can’t Indian companies do the same? Bangladesh provides better and cost-effective logistics for north-eastern markets,” he said. The US$255 million project, LSC was incorporated in November 1997 at Chhatak (Sylhet division), 10km from the international border with India in Meghalaya.