The foreign participants of the month-long Dhaka International Trade Fair (DITF-2015), the country’s largest and most vibrant showcasing event, experienced a ‘very dull’ business due to the ongoing political instability compelling them to rethink about their future plan.
This correspondent talked to a number of foreign participants at the fair venue who shared their experiences with grave frustrations though some of the local participants were upbeat about their business, UNB reports.
“To me, it’s totally frustrating… I’ve got very poor feedback so far from the fair,” Akbar Javan, a participant from Iran, told UNB.
Javan said he had also come to Bangladesh last year to explore business opportunities and found positive signals to be here. “So, I participated in the fair for the first time, but hartal and blockade have apparently ruined my business here. Even life isn’t safe outside the fair venue. I see busses being burnt,” he said.
Responding to a question, Javan of the Iranian Pavilion said he may not come next year unless political situation improves.
Pakistani participant Rahim Baksh, representing Kashmir Handicrafts Company, also came up with similar sentiment and said they are upset over the poor respond from the visitors. “You see, I left my stall, and is chatting with my friends here as there’s no customer,” said a frustrated Rahim.
Asked whether the extension of the fair time will help them get business, he said it will not help them that much. “A five-day extension would be fair enough, but customers know about the extension and are waiting for last-minute deals.”
Responding to another question, the Pakistani participant said their per day sales volume is only Tk 10,000 to 20,000. “Customers bargain to get a product of Tk 3000 at Tk 500 on Tk 1000.”
Talking to UNB, an Indian participant said they are not satisfied with the business feedback receiving from the fair so far. “We understand, this dull business is due to political situation,” the young salesman from Kashmir – Kashmir Heritage Company Limited – said wishing not to be quoted.
He said they have been, mainly his brother, taking part in the DITF for the last 15 years and wished to come again next year.
Responding to a question, he said they are doing comparatively better business if they compare with other stalls as they have quality products. “Our daily transaction varies from Tk 20-50 thousand.”
However, a local participant representing Walton expressed satisfaction as they have got a chance to meet a diverse group of customers at the fair apart from fetching some foreign orders from Spain, Europe and Australia.
“We’re not saying that we’re doing better than that of previous year. Our satisfaction is we have been able to bring all products under the same roof for our customers which is not possible in a single showroom,” Walton Pavilion Manager M Akramuzzaman Apu told UNB.
He said they are not concentrating on sales volume rather they are trying to give information about their products so that the customers can come and buy at their convenient time. “We’re happy to interact with customers directly.”
The Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), the organiser of the fair under the Commerce Ministry, expressed satisfaction over the visitors’ turnout at the fair.
“We’re happy. The feedback is good. Huge people are visiting the fair,” EPB Vice Chairman Shubhashish Bose told UNB.
The EPB and the Commerce Ministry usually come with data based on the fair outcome at the end of the event.
Considering ongoing political turmoil, the duration of the DITF was extended by 10 days. Now the fair will be continued till February 10 though it supposed to end on January 31.
The government hoped the 20th edition of the month-long fair would fetch higher export orders making it a success and expected that some 75-80 thousand visitors will visit the fair regularly.
The DITF had received export orders worth Tk 80 crore from the DITF-2014.