Shipbuilding: Economic Development in a Nutshell. The Bangladesh government considers shipbuilding as a means to spur faster economic growth of any country. (PNA Photo by Ma. Teresa Montemayor) 

DHAKA -- Despite being a third-world country and suffering from the pressures brought about by the global economic slowdown, Bangladesh remains at pace with shipbuilding giants as far as quality services and international standards are concerned.

This could be attributed to the country's rich shipbuilding history and the continued efforts of local entrepreneurs to invest in such endeavor.

"I can say that the shipping industry here is in difficulty at the moment because of the recession and, you know the decline. But, I shall be considering the shipping industry of Bangladesh as geared toward a bright future," Ananda Shipyard and Slipways chairman Abdullahel Bari told Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview.

Ananda Shipyard and Slipways is one of the more or less 70 shipyards in Bangladesh, which exports ships to different countries. It is known worldwide for the quality ships they deliver with certifications from international inspection bodies in the shipping industry.

Bari said Bangladesh possesses the key ingredients in shipbuilding -- long day time, good weather, big and wide coastlines, deep rivers and navigable waterways leading to the sea.

"Also we have a government that truly supports the industry and a low cost and very hardworking workforce," he added.

To become at a par with the worldwide shipping trends, Bari said Bangladesh continues to invest in different relevant technologies.

"For example, we have here a ship that is an ice-breaker type and we have the facilities and expertise to do that. Ships that are gas carriers, LPG carriers require very special technologies and we have all the certificates needed and all," he said, adding that their clients mostly come from Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Maldives, and South African countries.

Bari added that all the materials they use are imported from Japan, India, Korea, United Kingdom and Sweden to ensure quality.

Recognizing the excellence of other countries in the shipping industry, Bari said he considers Bangladesh in the third ranking, together with Singapore and India.

"If we compare with other countries, we won't say that we're like Korea or we're like Japan because they have higher technology, and top of them also are the big European countries. We are quite confident to say that Bangladesh is in the top three spot," he said.

Apart from being known in the world as a trusted shipbuilder, Bari said Bangladesh is continuously improving its shipping industry as it provides jobs to many of their locals, who do the designing, cutting, lofting, welding, woodworking, mechanical works and electrical works needed in completing a single ship.

"Around 300 people are employed in a shipyard. Multiply that with the number of shipyards in the country, this industry employs a lot of locals. To a great extent it solves the unemployment issue in Bangladesh because these people can join the shipyard without any skills. For example, a young man can be a helper to the welder and so on. We design our ships and we have good managerial skills," he added. (PNA)