McDonald Steel first to begin production
Bangladesh's largest industrial enclave, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar, in Mirsarai, Chattogram, finally witnessed the start of operations of its maiden factory last week.
McDonald Steel Building Products started the trial operation of its manufacturing plant at the shilpa nagar on January 25.
Another seven industrial units including that of Asian Paints Bangladesh and Nippon & McDonald Steel lndustries will start running one after another by December this year, Abdullah Al Mahmud Faruk, the shilpa nagar's project director, told The Daily Star.
But that hinges on the pandemic situation getting better, he said.
Nippon & McDonald Steel lndustries, a joint venture of Japan's Nippon Steel Corporation and Bangladesh's McDonald Steel Building Products, have engaged Japanese expert to start testing out their machinery.
Initially, the two companies have agreed to invest $59.19 million, or nearly Tk 500 crore, in phases to establish the plant.
The two factories of McDonald will collectively create employment for about 2,500 people.
In case of Asian Paints Bangladesh, it is their second manufacturing unit which is expected to go into operation within one or two months, according to sources at Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (Beza).
The official inauguration will be held as soon as possible once incorporated into Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's schedule, they said.
Besides, eight industrial units are under construction, including that of Berger Paints Bangladesh, Bangladesh Auto Industries and Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, which are likely to start running operations by June next year.
According to Beza, the shilpa nagar has drawn investment proposals amounting to $20.13 billion till date -- $19.85 billion from locals and $1.28 billion from abroad.
However, the McDonald's new manufacturing unit will take up to one month to begin commercial production of galvanised and prefabricated steel sheets, said Sarwar Kamal, the company's managing director.
The machinery was brought from Japan and China.
"Nippon-McDonald already invested over Tk 100 crore in their joint venture factory to grab a bigger share of the growing market of steel plates along with economic growth and industrialisation in the country," he said.
Kamal went on to say that trial operations of the new unit began through the manufacturing of steel pipes.
"Nippon Steel Corporation is a highly compliant and well-renowned company around the world and it sees a good future for the steel sector in Bangladesh," he said.
Kamal believes they will be able to cater to the country's demand for prefabricated steel through the new unit, which will benefit the overall industry by substituting imports.
The company will import raw materials from China, Japan and European countries while finished products will be mainly used by the local industries.
Kamal expects to make annual sales of $20 million in the local market and also plans to export to South Asian countries once the unit becomes fully operational.
He said they have a good scope to export steel products to the northeastern states of India as well.
Industry insiders said the present annual demand for steel at home was around seven lakh tonnes, with an growth rate of around 12 per cent to 15 per cent.