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French firm wants joint venture to use Bangladeshi jute in automobile industry

French firm NATUP Fibres keen on setting up a joint venture in Bangladesh for making jute-based car interior components.

NATUP Fibres which specializes in design and production of natural fiber-based fibers and yarns and make car interior components is thinking of setting up a joint venture in Bangladesh for making jute-based car interior components.

Karim Behlouli Natup Fibers in BD
Figure: Karim Behlouli, CEO of NATUP Fibre keen on setting up a joint venture in Bangladesh for making jute-based car interior components.

“Bangladesh is the best place to buy jute. But you have to ensure quality jute,” said Karim Behlouli, CEO of NATUP Fibre.

Karim Behlouli recently said after visiting from Bangladesh in his office at Yvetot in Normandy.

Karim emphasized that Bangladesh has an enormous prospective to become one of the major suppliers of jute to the global automobile industry.

Another cutting edge advantage of jute is, it’s cheaper than flax, which is commonly used for car interiors. The price of flax is €1.1 per kilo whereas a kilo of jute costs €1, Karim added.

The future of jute is very good. We need more innovations here

karim behlouli, CEO, NatUp fibres

“We are investing more to add value to jute. Although we usually use flax to make the interiors of vehicles, flax is expensive than jute,” he said.

NATUP Fibres is one of the major suppliers of car components. It makes dashboards, door panels, parcel shelves, wheel arches, headliners, spare wheel covers, and backs of seats using natural fibers like flax (linen), hemp, kenaf (mesta), and jute.

Karim Behlouli was optimistic, “If things go well, we may go for a joint venture in Bangladesh. But it is still at the planning stage.”

The prospects to transform jute fiber into diverse export products and expand its market globally is high. “The future of jute is very good. We need more innovations here,” Karim said.

It is a golden opportunity for Bangladesh’s ‘Golden Fiber’ as the world’s top car makers constantly seeking new products to reduce carbon emissions, the answer may well be in jute from Bangladesh.

The natural fiber also reduces the vehicle’s weight and improves fuel efficiency. Which also makes jute a high priority product for the automobile industry. And major global automakers have started using jute-based composites.

Bangladesh started supplying jute to high-end car makers like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and VW in the early 2000s, according to Bangladeshi jute exporters.

Annually up to 80,000 to 100,000 tons of natural fibers are consumed by the global car industry, of which 10,000 to 12,000 tons of jute are supplied by Bangladesh, said Mushtaq Hussain, managing director of Golden Fibres Trade Centre, a leading jute exporter.

Once the lifeline of Bangladesh economy has seen some recently renewed hope. In 2017-18 FY, jute production was about 19.6 lakh tons from 7.58 lakh hectares.

The CEO of NATUP Fibres thinks this is high time for the country to tap into the potential of jute.

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