With the government’s support in those areas, our pharma industry has the potential to take Bangladesh to new heights
Since the 1980s, the value of export earnings from ready-made garment products has grown exponentially, putting Bangladesh on the map as a major RMG exporting country. Even over the last 10 years, that value has more than tripled, increasing our share in the global RMG market.
The RMG success story is a source of national pride now. But it is time for us to explore our potential in other industries.
With that in mind, the government has announced its intention to boost the hugely profitable domestic pharmaceuticals industry into international markets, while the prime minister declared pharmaceutical products as “product of the year.”
While several Bangladeshi pharmaceutical companies do already export to various countries, it is still small-scale compared to the RMG industry and in terms of global market share. Industry insiders talk about several barriers to entry that are holding them back.
The reason is, there are some key differences in the nature of the two industries and their respective overseas markets, preventing our pharma industry from taking off and flourishing internationally.
First is the skill-level of workers — compared to other RMG exporting countries like China, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka, the Bangladeshi RMG industry gains its competitive edge by using the least skilled and cheapest workers to produce low-quality merchandise for the lower-end of the global RMG market. But the pharmaceuticals requires highly skilled labour that we do not have enough of.
At the same time, the international pharma market is highly regulated and demands the best quality products, which would require technical and diplomatic expertise from our side to negotiate with and gain access to foreign markets.
With the government’s support in those areas, our pharma industry has the potential to take Bangladesh to new heights.