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‘Think out of the box to face the challenges posed by the 4IR’

The country’s apparel sector entrepreneurs require more financing at a competitive rate to make the industry socially, environmentally and economically sustainable, speakers said at a national conference held on 11 January.

national conference on State of the Economy in the era of 4th Industrial Revolution
Figure: Distinguished guests and industry leaders were present at the conference.

They said the garments sector should be transformed with technologies linked to the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) to make the business sustainable by strengthening its position in the global competition.

The observations were made on the topic ‘State of the Economy in the era of 4th Industrial Revolution’ at the Dhaka School of Economics organized by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

BGMEA President Rubana Huq attended as chief guest, said that it was essential to be able to think out of the box to face the challenges posed by the 4th industrial revolution. She believes that all the stakeholders should come forward to safeguard the apparel sector of Bangladesh.

BGMEA Director Asif Ibrahim said, “We must use the digital Bangladesh platform to turn 4IR challenges into opportunities.”

To make the readymade garments (RMG) sector socially sustainable, the industry owners, buyers and the government are very committed to ensuring workers’ safety and rights as well as their wellbeing and dignity.

No business will prosper without a sustainability plan. Climate change is the biggest impediment towards the advancement of the country’s apparel industry and its future sustainability.

Though Bangladesh is one of the least per capita carbon-emitting countries. Bangladesh has a number of green industries with 101 LEED-certified factories and more than 500 in the pipeline.

“In terms of economic sustainability, we are unusually silent despite being agreed to the fact that making a factory safe for working, making it socially and environmentally compliant, huge investment is needed. But entrepreneurs are hardly getting financing to do so at a competitive cost,” Asif Ibrahim said.

Bangladesh needs more investment in the manufacturing industries to progress in line with the technologies of 4IR.

“Country’s export earnings from RMG was US$ 34 billion last fiscal year. Bangladesh has set an earnings target of $50 billion from the sector by 2021.”It’s not over-ambitious but the journey isn’t going to be that easy as well,” Asif Ibrahim added.

Textile and RMG sector has been going through major changes with the emergence of technologies linked to the 4IR, changing many conventional models of business in the sector.

Stating that it is a shared responsibility of all stakeholders to make the industry sustainable, he said, adding that meaningful exchange of knowledge can make sustainability easier for the manufacturing process across the garments industry.

Referring to Bangladesh as the second-largest apparel exporter in the world, Canadian the High Commissioner said that the continuity of this success will depend on the commitment of the stakeholders in finding ways to make the industry more sustainable.

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