Dhaka International Trade Fair 2014 (DITF2014), the biggest and most vibrant showcasing event in the country, is now open for visitors at the sprawling ground on the western side of Bangabandhu International Conference Centre at Agargaon. DITF is organized by Export Promotion Bureau & the Ministry of Commerce, Government of Bangladesh every year in the month of January. The venue becomes the favourite destination for one whole month for not only Dhakaites, but general people and traders from other districts as well. As the winter sun dips below the horizon every afternoon, the number of visitors begins to increase in the fair.
This fair also turns out to be the ostentatious event for the local and foreign manufacturers to display their wares before a huge and appreciating crowd. The buying spree begins from day one and gathers momentum from the middle of the month. The last seven days see hectic buying thus bringing smile of contentment in the face of the businessmen who spend considerable sums in setting up the stalls.
The occasion provides the manufacturers and traders with the opportunity to set up eye-catching pavilions and stalls tastefully decorated with banners and logo. The inner décor is tailor-made every year to attract buyers. Each year EPB awards the best stall for its design and other features.
Economic aspect of the fair
DITFs provide Bangladeshi manufacturers and traders the opportunity to put up stalls with great enthusiasm to display their best products before local and foreign buyers. Leather goods, textiles, electronic items, ceramic and porcelain wares, melamine wares, plastic products and toys, readymade garments, winter clothes, handicrafts, home appliances etc., remain among the most sought after goods at the fair.
The fair not only becomes the hub of buying and selling of goods, it also brings manufacturers and consumers closer and thereby strengthens the relations between the two. No doubt businesses get the needed boost during the tenure of the fair. The local manufacturers get the opportunity to have a closer look at foreign quality products, price structure, packaging style etc., and can learn plenty from the delegates. The knowledge comes helpful in improving our local products.
Exporters of quality Bangladeshi products get substantial spot orders from foreign buyers who visit their stalls during the month-long fair. Foreign manufacturers are also allowed to set up stalls in the fair to display their products to Bangladeshi buyers. According to EPB, in 2010 traders received export order worth Tk. 23 crore. In 2011 it rose to 25 crore and in 2012 it was 43 crore. In 2013 they received export order worth Tk. 157 crore. This year traders expect it to go up to Tk. 200 crore.
Social aspect of the fair
Families go there to break the monotony of a tedious city life, more like an outing, even if they do not buy anything. Various food stalls offer exciting items to customers wishing to take a break from walking around. Among the interesting features of DITF, discounts, special offer, gifts, lottery etc., work well to pull crowds. Family members also love to have their photos taken before various stalls and pavilions. Many of them will find their way to various social media like Facebook etc.
This time there are about 484 stalls of various categories in the fair. These include general, premium, foreign stalls, mini pavilions, and restaurants. India, Iran, China, Malaysia, S. Korea, Thailand, Turkey, Pakistan, USA, Hong Kong and Singapore have set up stalls at the fair.
The entrance fees have been fixed at Tk. 30 for adults and Tk. 20 for minors.
The security aspect in and around the fair has been given utmost importance this year. In addition to Rab, police and ansars, this time around armed police battalion, BGB and members from private security companieshave been deployed to keep watchful eyes on the fair from both ground positions and 8 watch towers.
The first DITF was held on first of December in 1995 in Dhaka. The venue was Agargaon, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar open space. It was launched under the patronage of Bangladesh Export Promotion Bureauand the Ministry of Commerce.
The Dhaka International Trade Fair is now being held regularly at Agargaon to present local products to local and foreign buyers.
According to EPB, the number of participants and visitors in the trade fair has been increasing every year. In 1995, nearly 70, 000 people visited the fair. The number continued to increase since then to the delight of the organisers. This time EPB expects about one lakh visitors coming to the fair every day despite the political problems and cold weather. In the past also many countries including India, China, Japan, Germany, Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia and Korea set up stalls at the fair.
International trade fairs have been contributing to the economic progress of Bangladesh. Trade and commerce increase through the direct contact with foreign buyers as they can see for themselves our products on display. It makes it possible for the participating businessmen of the host country to negotiate with overseas buyers in a friendly ambiance. We wish the DITF 2014 all the best and the visitors some happy moments.
The writer is Special Supplements Editor, The Daily Star