Bangladesh plans to focus more on production of high end readymade garments and building a positive brand image both in the local and global markets. Manufacturers want to have their own designers, set up fashion houses and promote branding. The industry has long been producing readymade garments designed by others.
Apparel makers will have brand outlets across the globe to attract retail customers. Over the last few years some local brands have emerged in Bangladesh with high quality products. These brands have successfully introduced fashion, style as well as fads in the domestic market. Meanwhile Bangladesh’s garment makers feel the target to hit $50 billion in exports by 2021 is achievable if political stability, infrastructure and policy support are in place. Right now Bangladesh’s share in the global garment business is 5.80 per cent.
Vietnam is one of the major competitors of Bangladesh in the global apparel business. China is the largest apparel exporter globally but is losing market share as entrepreneurs are becoming involved in other sectors due to high production cost and a shortage of skilled workers in the apparel industry. Bangladesh is getting more export orders, which are being shifted to the country from China.
Bangladesh to achieve the second largest economic growth within 2019
Bangladesh’s Members of the Parliament (MP) from both treasury and opposition benches have expressed their firm hope that the country would achieve the second largest economic growth within 2019 because of the tremendous development carried out continuously in all sectors. They said the living standard of Bangladesh has already risen up, giving a clear indication that the country is becoming a developed one.
Lawmakers of the 10th Jatiya Sansad (parliament) were proud to say that Bangladesh’s average per capita income is $1,316 at present ($547 previously) and the poverty rate has come down to 7 per cent (24 per cent previously). The MPs made these observations while they were taking part in a discussion on President Md Abdul Hamid’s speech given on January 20 on the first day of the 9th session of the 10th parliament. They said the President highlighted different positive aspects in social, political and economic sectors that set Bangladesh in motion on the wheels of a faster growth.
According to the lawmakers, the present government is relentlessly working towards advancing the national economy in a faster pace by speeding up development in all sectors. The country had already achieved success in the health, electricity, education, agriculture, food, communications, science and technology, industries, women and children sectors. The law makers said, Bangladesh has become a digital country within the shortest possible time due to the farsightedness of Sajeeb Wazed Joy, son of Prime Minister Sheik Hasina and the adviser of ICT affairs to the Prime Minister.
EU looks for fair prices in Bangladesh
Brands and buyers in the EU want to make sure that workers in the readymade garment sector of Bangladesh are paid reasonable wages. Brands that buy from manufacturers in Bangladesh want to ensure they are buying from reputable factories and manufacturers, and consumers want to be confident that the products are made in good condition in terms of workplace safety.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh too wants to send out an emphatic message that remediation plans are in place after the series of workplace accidents and that the most dangerous factories are now closed. Europe is following the progress in the readymade garment sector, which it recognises as an immensely important industry for both Bangladesh and the EU. A team from EU has also asked Bangladesh about what has been done on labor rights in the export processing zones.
The European Union has been a very strong supporter of necessary changes in the readymade sector. Its desire is to play a part in making sure that a fair price is paid. The EU is Bangladesh’s main trading partner, accounting for around 12 per cent of Bangladesh’s total trade. EU imports from Bangladesh are dominated by clothing, accounting for around 90 per cent of the EU’s total imports from Bangladesh.
India has launched an anti-dumping investigation into imports of jute goods from Bangladesh
India has launched an anti-dumping investigation into imports of jute goods from Bangladesh to see whether export prices are set below fair market prices. The probe is part of India’s plan to impose an anti-dumping duty on jute items imported from Bangladesh.
Bangladesh fears that if India imposes an anti-dumping tariff on Bangladeshi jute goods, this could deal a heavy blow to Bangladeshi millers and exporters and further widen the already huge trade gap between the two countries. Anti-dumping tariff is a penalty imposed on suspiciously low-priced imports, to increase their price in the importing country to protect local industry from unfair competition. Bangladesh exports jute goods like yarn, twine, sacks and bags. Of the total exports, around 20 per cent goes to India. Other major destinations for Bangladeshi jute items are Turkey, Iran, Egypt, China and the US.
The country gives cash incentive to encourage jute production and exports, but the cash incentive is decreasing gradually. At present, it stands at five per cent for yarn and 7.5 per cent for other jute goods. The Bangladesh jute industry feels if the anti-dumping duty is imposed, Indian consumers will suffer and will be forced to use plastic bags.
8% up in export earning of Bangladesh
Bangladesh’s export earnings from the United Kingdom in the first seven months of the financial year 2015-16 witnessed a robust growth of 22.59 per cent. Export earnings growth remained negative in major markets like Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands and China while earnings witnessed encouraging growth in the United States and India. Earnings from China in the first seven months fell by 8.07 per cent.
Readymade garment exports to the UK grew by 26.10 percent in the period. Bangladesh’s export is mostly demand-driven. Building supply side capacity is important to achieve demand-driven export growth in the global market. Earnings from Germany remained almost the same in the first seven months while Belgium and Denmark witnessed a negative growth of 7.60 per cent and 4.43 per cent respectively. Earnings from Spain grew by 12.24 percent while exports to France increased by 3.52 percent.
Export earnings from Sweden remained almost the same while Italy and the Netherlands witnessed a 2.21 percent and 1.86 per cent negative growth. Earnings from the US grew by 13.5 percent while readymade garment exports to the US grew by 12.6 percent. Earnings from India grew by 27.26 percent while readymade garment exports to India grew by 15.11 percent. Bangladesh’s overall export earnings in the July to January period of financial year ’16 showed a 8.26 percent rise.
EU Parliament Delegation Met BGMEA Leaders
The visiting delegation of the European Parliament has met with BGMEA Leaders at BGMEA Complex, Dhaka. The delegation, led by the Chair of the Delegation for Relations with the Countries of South Asia Jean Lambert, was comprised of Ivan Stefanec, Vice-chair of the Delegation for Relations with the Countries of South Asia; Mayaudon Pierre, Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh; Frederic Maduraud, Head of Political, Economic, Trade, Press and Information Section; Mario Ronconi, Head of Cooperation – Head of Unit; Abu Syed Belal, Trade Advisor; Katarzyna Kaszubska, Attaché and Junior Expert; and Othmar Okx, Regional Security Officer.
BGMEA President Md. Siddiqur Rahman briefed the EU delegation about Bangladesh RMG industry, its safety improvements and ongoing remediation work. Senior Vice President of BGMEA Faruque Hassan, Vice President S.M. Mannan (Kochi), Vice President (Finance) Mohammed Nasir, Vice President Mahmud Hasan Khan (Babu) and Directors Miran Ali and Md. Rezwan Selim were present on the occasion.
The BGMEA President after the meeting in a press briefing said that the EU delegation expressed their satisfaction over the safety progress of Bangladesh RMG industry. “They are happy about the improvements we have made in the structural, electrical and fire safety”, he added.
Bangladesh to do more in RMG sector- Sustainability compact
Partners of ‘Bangladesh Sustainability Compact’ sat more needs to be done in ensuring labour rights and trade union rights to overhaul the sector as it faced a severe blow because of Rana Plaza collapse in 2013. During the second follow-up meeting of the Sustanablitiy Compact in Dhaka, they also acknowledged the importance of brands and retailers to adopt practices that promote responsible business conduct in global supply chains, and encouraged them to adopt an uniform code of conduct for factory audits in Bangladesh.
Sustainability Compact is a partnership between the Bangladesh government, the European Union, the United States and ILO, to take the stock of progress in its implementation since its last meeting. The partners recognised further the progress made by Bangladesh since the last follow-up meeting towards meaningful and sustainable changes in the RMG industry in Bangladesh, said a joint statement issued after the meeting.
The meeting appreciated the recent promulgation of implementing rules under the Bangladesh Labour Act, the near completion of initial safety audits by the government and hundreds of RMG factories, the launch of ‘Better Work Bangladesh’ programme with ILO/IFC and the continuation of efforts to improve the capacity of the some organisations like DIFE, Fire Service and Civil Defence Department, Rajuk, through increase in staff and budgetary allocations.
BGMEA BUFT Journalism Fellows to go on study tour to Germany
BGMEA in association with GIZ organized a study tour to Germany for the Fellows and Mentors of the BGMEA-BUFT Journalism Fellowship-2014 program. BGMEA President Md. Siddiqur Rahman announced this at a press conference at BGMEA on February 23. The Fellows and Mentors will leave for Germany on 28 February, he informed. Ambassador of Germany to Bangladesh H.E. Dr. Thomas Prinz was present at the press briefing. The study tour aims to sharpen the knowledge and skills of the Fellows by providing them the opportunity to learn about business journalism and journalism ethics so that they can contribute to the development of Bangladesh, particularly the RMG industry, with their professional performance.
The Fellows will participate several training sessions on business journalism and journalism ethics during the tour. They will also have an opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge of the German media and to horn their professional skills through exchange of views with journalists working in the German media.
BGMEA Senior Vice President Faruque Hassan and Vice President (Finance) Mohammed Nasir also spoke at the press conference.
BGMEA Vice President Ferdous Perves Bivon, BGMEA Directors, Programme Coordinator at the Promotion of Social and Environmental Standards in the Industry (PSES) project, GIZ, Dr. Jochen Weikert, Editor of Bhorer Kagoj Shyamol Dutta who is also a Mentor of the Fellowship program, were present on the occasion.
78 units membership has been cancelled by BGMEA
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) cancelled membership of some 78 apparel-manufacturing units at its board meeting recently.”We cancelled the membership of 74 members as they failed to comply with the terms and conditions, including subscription fees,” BGMEA Vice President Faruque Hassan told the FE.
The four other factories requested cancelling their memberships as they failed to run their business for various reasons, he added. Some 3612 members are listed in Dhaka while 708 in Chittagong, according to BGMEA.
Government has approved trade union rights at EPZs
Workers at the country’s export processing zones (EPZs) are going to enjoy the trade union rights as the government has given final approval to a draft law in this regard. According to the draft law, ‘The Bangladesh EPZ Labour Law, 2016’, they (workers) will also enjoy the rights of forming a permanent wage board for them.The approval came from the regular weekly meeting of the cabinet held at Bangladesh Secretariat in the city with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
Explaining the draft law, cabinet secretary Mohammad ShafiulAlam said the law is going to be formulated in line with the existing Labour Law of 2006.
The cabinet secretary also said the law is being formulated in response to call of different international organisations. In response to a question on Generalized System of Preference (GSP) to US, he said, “There will remain a chance of getting GSP facility in the US market.” He added: “It is consistent with the central bargaining agent (CBA) and trade union.” The cabinet secretary also told the reporters that the family members of a worker will get compensation of Tk 2 lakh if he or she dies while on duty, and Tk 2.25 lakh has been fixed for any worker for his or her ‘permanent’ or ‘complete’ disability.
Bangladesh want to set up a warehouse in West Bengal
Garment makers in Bangladesh want to set up a warehouse in West Bengal. If the proposal goes ahead exporters from Bangladesh are also interested in setting up a garment park alongside.
The warehouse will help garment manufacturers in Bangladesh supply apparels directly to retail shops across India. Although India provided duty-free and quota-free market access for all Bangladeshi goods, except 25 alcoholic and drug items in 2012, it levied a 12.5 per cent countervailing duty the following year, which hampered garment exports.
Bangladesh exported garment items worth $104.25 million to India in fiscal 2014-15, up 8.3 per cent year-on-year. The country’s overall exports to India were worth $456.63 million in fiscal 2013-14, compared to $563.97 million a year earlier. Bangladesh’s imports from India were at $6.03 billion in fiscal 2013-14 and $4.78 billion a year earlier.
India is a very big market for Bangladeshi apparels, as its annual retail market size is set to cross the $40 billion dollar mark thanks to its growing middle class. Bangladesh seeks to boost its annual garment exports to the Indian market to a billion dollars in three years from the present $100 million.
60 RMG unit claim completion, ACCORD to verify
Sixty readymade garment factories in Bangladesh, suppliers of European retailers and brands, have completed all remediation work suggested by the Accord on Fire and Building Safety and are waiting for the recognition from the European buyers’ platform.
According to senior officials from Accord, once the factories’ claim are verified, the names would be released. The Accord received information from approximately 60 factories in which all remediation items were completed but only two of them were verified and accordingly received recognition letters from the chief safety inspector of Accord, said a recent report on advisory board meeting of the platform. The two factories are Concord Fashion Export and Jeacon, both are housed in the same building at South Salna in Gazipur.
The two factories received the recognition on May 2015 nearly two years after the launch of Accord. The Accord steering committee decision on the remediation completion plan and associated allocation of additional resources, staff, and budget towards completion of remediation at the inspected factories were discussed in the advisory board.
According to the Accord update, it had decided to hire 39 additional engineers to increase the follow-up and verification inspections by Accord engineers to 16 teams in the field per day, visiting 32 factories per day.