The coronavirus epidemic has destabilised Bangladesh's electronics market as the prices of electronics products such as TV, fridge and air-conditioner imported from China have increased in the last few days.
Local business owners said most of the electronics products of the country are imported from China. But import is now suspended due to the coronavirus epidemic.
They said local manufacturers also import most of their spare parts from China. The local market has been greatly impacted as the import of these spare parts remains suspended too.
"The importers have enough products in their stock. Some are selling at a high price and some are waiting for the price to be higher. When they increase prices, we also have to raise the selling price," said Zahirul Islam, a salesman at AC Bazar Industries Limited of the Stadium Market in Gulistan.
But the sellers of electronics products of international brands like Sony, Sharp and Samsung said they do not need to increase prices right now as they have adequate stocks. They said they their trade volume with China is not that high.
Prices of Chinese TV brands like Triton, Jevico and Sony Plus have increased a little. The price of a 32-inch television of these brands was Tk12,500 to Tk13,000 three to four days back.
On Tuesday (February 11), the TV sets were sold for Tk14,000 to Tk15,000.
"I came to buy a 32-inch television of a Chinese brand but prices have increased. Now I am going back without buying the TV," Junaid Hussain, who came to the Stadium Market, told The Business Standard.
Another customer, Nazmul Islam, said, "Television prices vary in different stores. The sellers are asking for higher prices."
The price of 1.5-tonne Chigo air-conditioners has increased by Tk2,000 to Tk2,500. The product is now being sold for Tk29,000 to Tk30,000.
Other Chinese air-conditioner brands like Gree and Media are being sold at Tk2,500 to Tk3,000 more than their earlier prices.
Chinese fridge prices have also increased by Tk1,500 to Tk2,000.
Md Nazrul Islam, manager of AC Bazar Industries Limited, said, "All imports from China have been suspended. The importers have increased prices of the goods that they have in their stocks. There is a rumour that the coronavirus problem will not be over in the next two months. So, the market has become more unstable."
Mostafa Kamal, owner of Munia Enterprise, said, "No new LC (Letter of credit) is being issued at present. The goods from LCs issued about one-and-a-half-month back are not arriving. When supply is suspended, price increases a little."
Companies selling electronics products of big brands like Samsung, Sony and Sharp said prices of their products would not increase in three or four months. But if the supply chain does not become normal by that time, a crisis will emerge.
"We did not increase the price of any of our products. We have adequate stocks to meet the demand for the next three to four months," said Salim, manager of Sony showroom in Stadium Market.
A sales representative of Sharp showroom in the market said, "We will not face any problem because we do not have much business with China."
Paper market unstable
The coronavirus epidemic has also destabilised the paper market as a large amount of paper is imported from China.
Prices of 100gsm, 120gsm, 150gsm and 170gsm art papers mostly imported from China have increased by Tk200 to Tk500 per 500 sheets. They are now being sold at Tk2,600 to Tk5,200 depending on quality.
The price of 100gsm offset papers has increased by Tk300 and is now being sold at Tk3,000 per 500 sheets.
Md Abdul Quader, president of Fakirapool Paper Merchants Association, told The Business Standard, "The market of imported paper has been unstable for more than a week as import from China has remained suspended for coronavirus."
A high official of Bashundhara Paper Mills Limited said on condition of anonymity, "With the stock we have, we can meet the market demand for the next 20-25 days. If raw materials are not available by then, there will be a problem."
However, Bangladesh-China Chamber of Commerce and Industries members said prices of different commodities went up because of rumours about coronavirus.
Gazi Golam Mortuza, president of the trade body, said, "The Chinese side has informed us that there will be no more import and export problems."
He claimed that unnecessary panic is being spread over the coronavirus epidemic.
According to the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries, trade between Bangladesh and China now stands at Tk1,24,751.25 crore.
Of the amount, Tk1,17,676.96 crore goods are imported from China while Bangladesh exports products worth Tk7,061.73 crore.