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Date prices up despite ample imports, duty cut

Rokon Uddin
27 Feb 2024 02:08:23 | Update: 27 Feb 2024 02:08:23
Date prices up despite ample imports, duty cut
– TBP File Photo

Date prices are refusing to cool down even after a reduction in import duty, increased import volume, and shipment releases from the port. Instead, the prices of every type of date have gone up as the holy month of Ramadan draws near.

Traders say even before the reduction of duty, around 12,000 tonnes of dates were waiting for release at the port. Those are currently being released. Many have placed buy orders for fresh imports, which are expected to reach Bangladesh by mid-Ramadan.

However, even then, the stockpile of dates in the country will be slightly lower compared to the elevated demand of Ramadan.

Market insiders say the prices of Medjul, Mabrum, Ajwa, and Mariam dates – imported from Saudi Arabia – have increased by 40 per cent to 60 per cent in Bangladesh's market in the last year. The key reason behind this is the increase in duty compared to last year.

The duty on dates was Tk 6 – Tk 21 per kg last year, which rose to Tk 140 – Tk 208 this year.

However, even if the import duty is reduced by 10 per cent, the import cost would go down very less compared to the additional demand. As a result, the price of dates in the market has not decreased even though the duty has been reduced.

According to market data, the price of relatively high value dates has increased by Tk 100 – Tk 200 per kg in the last one week due to increased demand, and increased by Tk 200 – Tk 300 per kg in one month.

However, importers said the price of dates has not been reduced in the last one-two weeks, but it has not been increased either. The importers are selling dates from the port at the previous price. If the price increases, it is at the retail or wholesale level.

In the markets of the capital, Jumbo Medjul date is being sold for Tk 1,600 – Tk 1,800 per kg. Common Medjul is being sold for Tk 1,250 – Tk 1,400 per kg, Mabrum dates for Tk 1,100 – Tk 1,500, Ajwa dates for Tk 900 – Tk 1,300 per kg.

The best quality Maryam dates are being sold for Tk 900 – Tk 1000 per kg. Apart from this, Kalmi Maryam is selling for Tk 800 – Tk 900 per kg, Sufri Maryam for Tk 750 – Tk 800, Amber and Safavi for Tk 900 – Tk 1,200, and Sukkari dates for Tk 800 – Tk 900 per kg.

Among normal quality dates Galla or Bengal dates are being sold at Tk 250 per kg at retail while Zahidi dates verities at Tk300-320 per kg and Dabas dates at Tk450-550 per kg. Besides, plum dates are being sold at Tk440-540 per kg.

Wholesale market traders say the price of Zahedi brand dates stood at around Tk 1,250 – Tk 1,300 per carton (10 kg) before Ramadan, back in 2023. It is now being sold for Tk 1,800 per carton.

On February 8, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) announced an order to reduce the import duty on dates from 25 per cent to 15 per cent. Previously, a total of 53 per cent duty had to be paid on date imports, it is now 43 per cent.

Bangladesh Fresh Fruits Importers Association President Sirajul Islam said, “Many importers did not release dates from the port in hopes of a duty reduction. They have started clearing their goods following the declaration of a duty cut.

“As a result, the supply of dates can be said to be increasing. But it is true that the price of dates has not come down after the reduction in duty. We are selling dates only to cover import costs.”

He added, “If the importers buy dates for Tk 110 per kg, they have to pay a duty of Tk 140 – Tk 150 per kg. If the buying cost is TK 120, Tk 208 in duty must be paid per kg. Last year, the duty on dates before Ramadan was Tk 5.45 – Tk 21 per kg.

“We used to buy USD for Tk 90 each, we are paying Tk 120 – Tk 122 this year. Customs assessment is being conducted as per their wish.”