The textile chemical and dye market of Bangladesh is edging towards $1 billion on the back of rising garment exports, according to industry insiders.
This has caught the eyes of many foreign companies, who now mull over expanding their geographical footprint to Bangladesh.
One such company is Huntsman Textile Effects, a concern of the globally renowned US-based chemical and dye company Huntsman.
The company is currently working with nearly 200 textile and dye factories in Bangladesh and logging in 16 percent year-on-year sales growth, according to its Vice-president Chuck Hirsch.
Hirsch was in Dhaka this week to sign agreement with a textile company. Huntsman sells chemicals and also consultation as after sales services.
“Huntsman is among the top three chemical companies for Bangladesh. The country is among its top four destinations globally. There is room for further expansion of chemical and dye business.”
Swiss Colours Bangladesh, a local chemical and dye company, has been working as the agent of Huntsman in Bangladesh.
Hirsch, however, declined to divulge Huntsman's annual chemical and dye sales figure in Bangladesh. But industry insiders said Huntsman has more than $350 million worth of chemical and dye business in Bangladesh.
Globally, Huntsman's textile chemical business is worth $800 million. Among major garment producing nations, Huntsman supplies chemicals to textile factories in China, India and Vietnam.
Asked how green Bangladesh's textile mills were, Hirsch said water use for washing and dyeing can be reduced about 50 percent if the chemicals can be used properly. Similarly, energy consumption can also be cut 30 percent.
Regarding the prospects of garment business in Bangladesh, he said: “The outlook is very good.”
Bangladesh needs to address the health and safety issues and labour rights to grab more market globally, he added.
“Very soon Bangladesh's textile chemical and dye market will cross $1 billion, as the demand is fast increasing,” said Dheeraj Talreja, commercial director of Huntsman Textile Effects for South Asia, Middle-East and Africa.
The demand for chemicals in Bangladesh has been increasing rapidly because of the growing denim industry, he said, adding that Bangladesh's performance in the denim segment is so strong that it overtook even China in the EU market.
At present, there are 425 spinning, 790 weaving and 250 dyeing mills that have about Tk 50,000 crore of investment tied up, according to data from Bangladesh Textile Mills Association. With the existing capacity, the primary textile sector can supply 90 percent of the raw materials for knitwear and 40 percent for woven sector. The rest of the demand is met through imports from China, India and Pakistan.