Apparel entrepreneurs needed to make the move immediately; otherwise Bangladesh would lose out on the technical market
Bangladesh needs to develop strategies and sub-strategies to grab a significant portion of the North American and European market shares for technical textiles, said experts.
They also said that apparel entrepreneurs needed to make the move immediately; otherwise Bangladesh would lose out on the technical market, estimated to be around $180 billion.
Experts and insiders made these remarks at a discussion “Feasibility Study on Scaling up the Production of Technical Textiles (TT) including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Bangladesh”, jointly commissioned by GIZ, GFA with the support of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
Technical textile (TT) is a product manufactured for non-aesthetic purposes, where functionality is the primary criterion.
Currently, technical textile materials are most widely used in filter clothing, furniture, hygiene medicals, and construction materials. Masks and PPE are also technical textile products.
A study published at the discussion stated that the current size of the global technical textile market was about $180 billion, projected to grow to $224.4billion by 2025 at an average annual growth rate of 4.2%.
The global market for personal protective equipment (PPE), a crucial medical textile, is projected to pass $93bn by the end of 2025. Europe is the current leader in imports of medical textiles but demand from North America is also growing and expected to continue to grow.
Although the Covid-19 pandemic jumpstarted interest in medical textile products, the world of technical textiles and their end-use products is endless.
Once manufacturers have established reliable materials supply, upgraded their operations and learned the necessary testing and certification procedures, there are huge opportunities in product diversification, the study said.
Although Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of the apparel products, it is yet to tap this huge market.
Why Bangladesh lags behind
According to the study, there are mainly five reasons behind this, which includes lack of awareness of market requirements, inadequate technical expertise, difficulty in sourcing high-performance raw materials, compliance and certification requirements and need for capital investment.
To overcome these challenges, the study suggested 5 strategies, 21 sub-strategies, 94 key actions, and 142 outcomes.
The strategies include extensive branding and marketing, as well as strong collaboration within the industry.
It also suggested implementing compliance with national and international environmental standards, certifying TT/PPE products, creating an upskilled workforce, reducing supply chain costs, improving flexibility and response, and integrating communication systems.
The study also suggested key sub-strategies like creating effective coordination and support policies, building collaborative infrastructure for the supply chain and building a compliant and trusted "Made in Bangladesh" brand.
It also includes implementing lean manufacturing practices and ensuring transfer of management and technical skills.
Werner Lange, textile cluster coordinator of GIZ Bangladesh, said that they were proud to share the results, particularly critical gaps, key actions and an overall strategy to support Bangladesh in entering into this new market and – most importantly – in succeeding there in a sustainable and compliant way.
Faruque Hassan, president of the BGMEA, said that at this juncture they needed investment and technical knowhow from the developed nations.
“Our industry is ready to cater the growing market of the TT and PPE and demand is also on the rise. We encourage joint ventures in technical textiles and PPE, and also need support from the brands, testing services companies and technology suppliers to join hands and take the potential to a reality,” he added.
The study advocated for Bangladesh to capitalize on the country’s reputation as a compliant and certified trading partner to EU and US markets.
Once Bangladesh builds a reputation, confidence and reliability in this new product sector, it can gradually introduce more technology and advance to more diversified and sophisticated products offering greater profit margins, said the study.
Even starting with a limited number of products, if they are done well, it will open the door to a host of other niche categories and products. Encouraged by the success of the early manufacturers, more companies will take the leap and the sub-sector will grow.
The GIZ textile cluster is capacitating local stakeholders to tackle some of these challenges.
Outlining the successes of GIZ interventions in the textile and garment sector, the German ambassador Achim Tröster assured continued support.
“We are glad to cooperate with Bangladesh in the textile sector and – through this study – to give strategic impulses for further development of the sub-sector of technical textiles,” he added.
According to the study, TT/PPE production and product diversification in Bangladesh is in its earliest stages.
According to the BGMEA, 155 of its members export masks and PPEs, masks to 19 countries and PPEs to six countries.