Fire safety and security equipment traders in Bangladesh have demanded that the government provide a policy support to turn the industry into a manufacturing one.
The shift will generate new jobs and reduce the export dependence, they said this at an event titled "7th International Fire Safety and Security Expo 2020" at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital on Thursday.
They said that once the country goes into production of fire safety equipment, the government then should impose duty on import of relevant products.
Since 2013, especially after Rana Plaza collapse, demand for fire safety tools surged.
The traders also demanded land and soft loan to set up manufacturing facilities.
"Many companies show interest to invest in this sector. And it will create opportunity to creates jobs and add value to local products," said Zakir Uddin Ahmed, convener of the expo.
The Electronics Safety and Security Association of Bangladesh (ESSAB), in association with the Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence, organised the expo which will continue till February 15.
On the sidelines, Zakir Uddin told The Business Standard that Bangladesh imported fire safety and security equipment worth around Tk5,000 crore in 2015. And the market has been growing rapidly since then.
There are 400 companies involved in the business. Most of them have employees ranging from 30 to 400, he added.
Companies like Partex and PRAN-RFL are already in the production of such equipment, said Zakir.
Inaugurating the expo as the chief guest, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said, "Rana Plaza tragedy in 2013 was a wakeup call for the Bangladeshi apparel industry. It has now begun to return to the right track. The safety measures to bring back a good image helped Bangladesh become home to seven out of ten LEED certified green factories."
Senior Vice-President of FBCCI Md Muntakim Ashraf said the garment makers have spent about $60 to $70million for importing the fire safety gears.
They can halve the import cost by setting up the manufacturing units in the country, he added.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association first Vice-President Mohammed Abdus Salam and Director of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence SM Zulfikar Rahman, and the ESSAB President Motaher Hoshan Khan also spoke on the occasion.
A total of 75 companies from 25 countries including the US, UK, Germany, Italy, Taiwan, Turkey and India are participating in the exposition.
The fair will remain open for all from 10:30 am to 7:30 pm every day.