The country's publication industry is unable to exploit its marketing potential abroad because of inadequate policy support, while the local market continues to grow with substantial demand for quality books, publishers said.
Many foreign companies have expressed their interest to print books in the country. But local publishers cannot respond to their demand, as the government is reluctant to provide permission for accepting the work orders from the foreign clients.
The government fears that the 'over-liberal' policy about publication industry would lead to transfer of vital information to foreign countries, they said.
"The foreign countries are showing interest in printing their books and other materials in the country, considering the low cost of production here. The country is enjoying a high comparative advantage in publication and it has a good prospect for earning foreign exchange through selling printing and publication services", the owner of a renowned publishing enterprise said.
Despite rising cost of raw materials, the over-all cost of printing and publication works in Bangladesh is still remarkably low in the global context. The foreign companies are increasingly resorting to outsourcing and the publishing industry in the country can efficiently explore this opportunity and respond to the global outsourcing trend, he said.
"This is an age of information technology. There is prompt and wide flow of information now because of rapid technological development. It is unwise to put restrictions on efforts to tap global marketing opportunities on the ground of not allowing free flow of information. The world has reached such a position today that anyone can disseminate any information to any country at any time", an executive of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) said.
The printing and publishing industry is capable of earning a considerable amount of foreign exchange, responding to the demand of the foreign clients interested in outsourcing. Several quality-printing houses are already in the local market and they have proved their excellence of works, the industry sources said while adding that those houses can play a pioneering role in orienting the sector to tap the marketing potential abroad.
Some printing and publishing houses are informally entertaining foreign publishers' orders as outsourcing clients, which indicates that the base of the sector is getting stronger to meet the demand of the overseas market, sources said.
The policy makers in the country are giving special priority to export market for information and communication technology, which is more information-sensitive compared to printing and publication, the sources pointed out. In this context, the entrepreneurs in the printing and publication sector look forward to a liberal policy of the government so that they can play an effective role in expanding the market abroad, a publication entrepreneur said.
Meanwhile, the government is actively considering changes in the policy related to intellectual property rights, together with the issue of printing and publication in line with the global trend. The completion of the process might take some more time, a source in the ministry concerned said.