JBS Vol 15. Num 1. 2013 - Understanding the Dynamics of the Furniture Sector in Bangladesh

Mohammad Behroz Jalil

This paper reviews the furniture sector of Bangladesh as a potential sector for promoting pro-poor growth. With increasing urban surplus labor and the recent growing negative image of the RMG industries in the global arena, it is critical that we try to ensure that sectors like furniture, with high absorption capacity of low skill labor, can grow and expand quickly so as to diversify our export and manufacturing base. The paper is based on empirical research and qualitative study conducted across major furniture clusters in Bangladesh. In depth interviews of members of Bangladesh Furniture Industries Owners Association (BAFIOA) were also undertaken; the survey was financed by Katalyst Swisscontact. A market system approach is utilized to identify the systemic constraints in the sector. Major constraints entail lack of skilled labor force, low level of mechanization, limited access to finance, and lack of effective governmental support. The underlying constraints that give rise to these symptomatic issues are identified and actionable recommendations are offered.