Nerves Of Steel: Bangladesh Steel Industry

By: Shahriar Khan

The impact of steel in human lives is unimaginable. The usage of steel is everywhere from construction of roads railways to building airports and bridges. An advancement of an economy is directly correlated to the steel industry and the metal itself. Steel is by far the most imperative, multi-functional and most malleable of materials. The advance of mankind would have been impossible but for steel. The backbone of developed economies was laid on the strength and intrinsic uses of steel.
Steel industry in Bangladesh has the potential to grow 8 percent per annum keeping in mind the growth of the economy. Bangladesh has achieved a 6 percent GDP growth rate in the last consecutive two years and with the vision of becoming a middle income country by 2021 it needs the real-estate, ship-building and other infrastructure developments to flourish at a very rapid pace. Since steel is one of the main driving forces in the real estate sector it is quite important for a country to have a good backbone in steel manufacturing. Bangladesh has now quite a few steel making industry with state of the art machineries and skilled labor force. With increased industrialization and urban growth more and more labor force can be retained and trained efficiently to be a part of this growing industry. Instead of working abroad and not getting what they actually deserve, a large number of work-force can stay here and build a country of vision 2021 and for that a rapid urbanization is required.
Notable examples include Goldman Sachs who has included Bangladesh in its “Next Eleven” list of emerging economies alongside the BRICS nations as having potential to be future growth drivers in the international scene and the Asian Development Bank, which finds the country on a sustained growth path despite structural incongruities along its oftentimes rocky path.
In order to keep up with the pace the rolling and re-rolling mills are investing and expanding at a rapid rate with BSRM Steel Mills leading the market share. A good number of small and medium mills are also contributing to this ever growing sector. Due to vast market demand more and more companies are trying to obtain a share of the pie. Since the primary component of making steel is usually imported, the cost of making it at times gets expensive as the price of billet fluctuates violently in international market. Billet, also formally known as bar stock, is a common form of raw purified metal, used to manufacture metal parts and products. In order to hedge the local manufacturers and suppliers from this volatility, the leading steel firms of Bangladesh are now setting up their own billet manufacturing plants to reduce the dependency on import which also speaks volumes about the maturity of steel industry in Bangladesh. According to data available from the steel sector, Bangladesh does not need to import steel products as a good number of local mills are manufacturing international standard steel products for construction.
Ship-building industry in Bangladesh is playing a major role in the supply of steel to local companies and it helps to develop the expertise of the labor at home market leading to less dependency on imports. It has also helped to grow the steel and rod sector as almost 80% of steel come from there. The local industries are capable enough to meet the demand of the country. There are few constraints regarding efficient human capital, energy and new technologies. Regardless of such constraints Bangladesh is moving ahead boldly with automated steel industries and greener fume-efficient plants. Proper government policies, uninterrupted electricity, supply of gas and energy, smooth flow of foreign aid can help grow the big steel and re-rolling units.
The total number of steel companies in Bangladesh is increasing day by day with advancement of technology and human labor. Steel industry with developed and technological development can create a lot of employment for much needed growing workforce in Bangladesh. There is also a good opportunity of Bangladesh export steel and other steel products if the backward linkage industry gains momentum. Since steel plays a major role in an economy, a developing country like Bangladesh can prosper in terms of real growth of an economy. Bangladesh Steel Rolling Mills Limited (BSRM) is the first steel re-rolling mill in Bangladesh, established in 1947 when two intrepid businessman Taherali Africawala and Akberali Africawala ventured to put up the first steel rolling mill of the country in Nasirabad,Chittagong. It has also the largest billet making company in Bangladesh.

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