The garment accessories sub-sector is taking on more importance for Bangladesh with the start of direct exports to global brands, and could see a three-fold increase in export revenues in the next eight years.
According to data from the Bangladesh Garment Accessories and Packaging Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGAPMEA), the accessory sector earned $6.12bn in the last fiscal year, of which $1.12bn came from direct exports. The remaining $5bn were deemed indirect exports.
If the sector gets policy support and cooperation from the government, however, the earnings are likely to increase to $12 billion towards the end of 2018 and could hit $18 billion by 2025.
“Currently, our direct export is about 20% of deemed export items and is worth $1.12bn,” BGAPMEA president Abdul Kader Khan said. “(But) despite this huge contribution to the RMG sector, we did not enjoy cash incentives against the export of accessories.”
To continue the upward trend, BGAPMEA is calling for cash incentives and low interest bank loans to boost the sector and create more jobs.
“The sub-sector works closely with the RMG sector as a strong backward linkage industry,” said Abdul.
There are about 1,500 factories producing garment accessories and packaging items in Bangladesh, employing over 400,000 people. Products include labels, zippers, tags, tapes, thread, ribbon, buttons, rivets, laces, hooks, transfer film, paper, and ink.
RMG accessory products used to be exported as deemed items, but in recent years, several new global retailers have started sourcing accessory products directly from Bangladesh. Destination countries include the Netherlands, South Africa, Pakistan, India, China, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Italy, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan, Germany and Austria.
According to the association, some big buyers started contacting manufacturers to source accessories from neighbouring countries like Myanmar, India, and Vietnam – sources of their clothing products.
Md Zahirul Islam, assistant manager (Commercial and Sourcing) of Montrims Limited, told the Dhaka Tribune that his company manufactures “world-standard” garment accessories for many reputable international brands such as Tesco, Kik, Ferari, C&A, H&M, Next, and UniLabel.
“The global buyers prefer some accessories from multinational companies on the grounds of quality, which Bangladesh has already,” Zahirul said. “Since there is more capacity than needed, accessories can be another big sector for export.”
RMG sector leaders believe Bangladesh can take the lead in the export of RMG accessories, especially to the Asian market. China remains the global leader in the sector but has started shifting business due to high labour costs.
“Those days are not far away when Bangladesh will turn out to be the global leader in accessories export as it has already established international standard manufacturing factories,” Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) president Abdus Salam Murshedy told the Dhaka Tribune.
“The sub-sector of the clothing industry has made a great contribution to national exports, plus it helps the manufacturers reduce their lead time,” said Salam, who is also a former BGMEA president.