Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) organized a press conference on the ‘current situation of garment industry’ at Uttara office of BGMEA on Saturday (March 18) where the board members of BGMEA discussed various aspects and challenges of the current situation of the garment industry in Bangladesh. Also, they highlighted the ways out to sustain the export growth.
At the press conference, BGMEA leaders said, based on the model we have followed to move the industry forward, it will be difficult to achieve the desired growth in the coming days. We have to prioritize several things. There is no option to increase investment especially in backward linkages. We need to increase our investment in our non-cotton sector. In the past four decades, our readymade garment exports have reached $45 billion, however, material diversification of our products has not been done.
BGMEA President Faruque Hassan said that the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emphasized the garment industry entrepreneurs for product diversification. We believe, with her unwavering support, we have been able to diversify the market over the years. Similarly, if we get the policy support of the government, then the sector concerned will be successful in bringing about major changes in product diversification, especially in the non-cotton sector.
He said, “Our growth is increasing due to increase in orders for high value products. But the numerical negative position in exports worries us. We are trying to normalize it. At present, 80 per cent of the five-six garments are exported. In this case it is necessary to diversify the product.
It was informed in the press conference that in 2018-19, about 74.14 percent of our total garment exports were made of cotton, which was 69 percent ten years ago in the fiscal year 2008-09, that is, the dependence of our industry on cotton has increased in the last ten years. In 2018, Bangladesh imported a total of 2 million 52 thousand tons of fiber, of which 93.57 percent was cotton. Where about 75 percent of the world’s total textile consumption is non-cotton, and cotton’s share is only 25 percent.
On the other hand, only 26 percent of our exports are non-cotton. In today’s world, the demand for non-cotton products is increasing due to the continuous change in lifestyle of consumers and increasing demand for sustainable and eco-friendly clothing. So we have huge potential in this sector.
Faruque Hassan said that currently inflation in Europe and the United States is at a record level which affecting the consumer behavior. Consumers in these regions have reduced spending on consumer goods. Bangladeshi garment buyers have also reduced purchase orders. However, they have changed the sourcing strategy. Instead of placing large purchase orders at once, they are giving in small slots.
Regarding circular fashion and recycled product, BGMEA President said that the international consumer are now more interested in circular fashion and recycled products. We are already working with factories to reduce waste and ensure moderate use of resources. Our factories are reducing their wastage by adopting new technologies and upgradation of processes.
He said, “Now we are focusing on reuse of post industrial waste or ‘juth cloth’ as raw material. Presently, about 5 lakh tons of juth is produced every year from the textile and apparel industry. We export almost a part of it, which brings in about $400 million a year. If we can recycle these wastes, we can produce products worth about $5 billion, which will increase our national wealth, they added.
Regarding exports after LDC graduation, Faruque Hassan said, “We have talked to the Director General of the World Trade Organization so that the facilities do not stop after the LDC transition. Requested to maintain these facilities for next 10 years. We have continued discussions with various countries about this.”
In the press conference, BGMEA congratulated the CEO of Wisdom Attire and Member of Parliament Salim Osman for adding Bangla alphabet to the label of exported ready-made garments for the first time in the history of the country.
BGMEA president expressed optimism that from January 1, the text ‘Made in Bangladesh’ will be printed in Bengali alphabet on the labels of all clothing products produced in Bangladesh. Through this, the whole world will know the proud history, culture, tradition, Bengali language and Bangladesh.