‘Developed countries will prioritise green products’

In the coming days, the developed countries will give priority to the industrial goods produced in a green environment, maintaining human rights and safety of workers, Chairman and CEO of Youngone Corporation Kihak Sung said.

He expressed this view when a delegation of the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), led by its president Mahbubul Alam, visited the Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) on the bank of the Karnaphuli river on Saturday.

“The environmental and human rights of workers will be major issues in the export markets of developed countries, particularly in the European Union, the US, Canadian, Japanese and Australian markets. Youngone Corporation gives priority to both issues while exporting goods to the developed countries,“ he added.

Sources also said that the environment and safety and security and human rights are to be considered as a priority in the export markets.

Bangladeshi businesses will have to ensure the protection of basic human rights and the environment in production to keep trading with Germany, as the biggest economy in Europe is going to adopt a new due diligence law from 2023.

The new law will be applicable to any country that does business with Germany, they said at a webinar titled "German Due Diligence Act – Implications for Manufacturers and Exporters in Bangladesh."

“While giving priority to the environmental issues, industrial plots have been constructed on 48% of the land while keeping 52% of land green in KEPZ. The company has 28-kilometre-long electricity and seven-kilometre-long gas transmission lines.  KEPZ also offers plots of different sizes to entrepreneurs, keeping their demands in mind,“ the Youngone Corporation CEO said.

“Some 25,000 workers are employed in some 40 industrial units in the KEPZ and producing shoes, bags, readymade garments and textiles,“ he added.

Sung also said that the company has given employment to 67,000 workers in Dhaka, Chittagong and EPZ.

Back in 1980, Kihak Sung started with a small factory with 250 women workers in Agrabad, Chittagong. The Korean company was the first foreign investor in the clothing industry of Bangladesh.

Sung said: “In 1986, we moved to the Chittagong Export Processing Zone. When we first invested in Chittagong in the early 1980s, we imported raw fibres such as polyester for carding and processing, then filled them into nylon outerwear for export in volume to the Swedish markets.”

The readymade garment industry is the largest export earner of the country with 80% of total exports. Youngone Corporation trained the first generation of Bangladeshi entrepreneurs in the late 70s.

Sung said: “Youngone Group’s current annual turnover is $2.3 billion. We are proud that one-third of it comes from Bangladesh. Besides textiles, we have other ventures as well.”

“The company has 25,000 trained local employees in KEPZ. The KEPZ has a welfare-oriented modern medical centre, fully automated kitchen, canteen, child daycare centre, indoor sports facilities, and 9 dormitories that are under construction to accommodate 5,400 female workers.”

In the KEPZ, the company is now establishing three world-class facilities of 120,000 square meters (40,000 square meters each), producing MMF with circular knitting, warp knitting, weaving, dyeing, finishing, and lamination work, Youngone boss Sung said.

Praising the role of Youngone in the Bangladesh economy, CCCI President Mahbubul Alam said that the Korean company will increase its investment in Bangladesh in the coming days as the present government is giving different incentives to foreign investors.

He said that Bangladeshi entrepreneurs have also set up several hundred green industrial units in the textile and clothing sectors keeping an eye on the Youngone.

He also praised the progress of setting up different industrial units in the KEPZ.

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