‘Bangladesh is a greenfield for investment in apparel sector’

Bangladesh is a greenfield for investment in the growing apparel sector, said Faruque Hassan, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). 

He was presenting the keynote at “Readymade Garments and Textiles; Weaving the Way” on the 2nd day of the International Investment Summit 2021, Bangladesh on Monday.

In his keynote, Hassan said that the apparel sector currently has 3,500 active clothing factories, $20 million in investment, 4 million workers, and it exports to 167 countries of the world.

“Bangladesh earns 83% of its export earnings from the apparel sector, with 11% contribution to the GDP,” he added.

He also said that Bangladesh has 150 LEED Green garments factories certified by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and 40 out of the world’s top 100 garment factories are in Bangladesh.

“500 more factories are in the process of getting LEED certification. BGMEA pledges to the Green Button, which is a global seal of excellence in sustainability by the government of Germany,” he added.

He also said that BGMEA was awarded the “2021: USGBC Leadership award” for its outstanding contribution to promoting green factories.

“75% of exports are concentrated in 5 core items. Almost 74% of the products are cotton-based. 80% of our exports are concentrated within the $15/kg price range,” he added. 

He also said that Bangladesh is working on design development, innovation and end-to-end digital manufacturing. So, the country is a greenfield for investments in textiles and high value-added items.

“P4G funded Circular Fashion Partnership initiative aims to achieve a long-term, scalable transition to a circular fashion system that produces new, low carbon footprint and responsibly-made products.”

He also said that the partnership between the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), BGMEA and Reverse Resources (RR) includes 19 brands, 17 recyclers and 85 manufacturers on board.

Mohammad Hatem, vice-president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) said that there is a shortage of skilled garment workers in the country. 

“So, it is important for all technical training centres and vocational training centres in the country to introduce RMG related courses in coordination with the BGMEA and BKMEA,” he added.

He also said that it is important for technologically advanced entrepreneurs to enter the backward linkage industry.

Meanwhile, former BGMEA president and the President of the Bangladesh Chamber of Industries (BCI) Anwarul Alam Parvez said that Bangladesh is an attractive location for investment because of producing basic items, which is 60% of total global demand. 

He also said by 2030, Bangladesh will be able to achieve SDG, 30 million new jobs will be created in the country and 70% of the country will be part of the workforce.

“Bangladesh is one of the least polluting countries in the world, emitting only 0.24% of carbon annually,” he added.

He also said that there are a number of world-class ETPs, and the entrepreneurs are very committed. “So, it is a haven for investment, that is why the global investors should invest in Bangladesh,” he added.

Swapna Bhowmick, country manager of Marks and Spencer Bangladesh, said that the entrepreneurs in Bangladesh are very committed, which is very important for investment. 

“There are also some areas that are very attractive. Again, the country's investment sector is growing,” she added.

She also said that above all, the people of the country are a fantastic and resilient workforce. That is why investing here will be very fruitful.  

Mohammad Ali Khokon, president of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) said, in the RMG sector, Bangladesh is the best place to invest. In the knitwear sector, we supported around 95% fabrics and set 4th generation machinery.

“However, in the woven sector, we are lacking behind. We need to import around 65% or sometimes even more fabrics. But now we started setting up manmade fibre machinery,” he added.  

Former BGMEA president and Dhaka North City Mayor Atiqul Islam said that ten years back, there was no electricity and now, we have electricity more than we need. 

“There are some challenges at the port, but we are trying to overcome that. We are developing our infrastructure to attract investors,” he added.

According to the session, exporting to over 150 countries and contributing 16% to the GDP, Bangladesh has the world’s 3rd largest apparel industry.

Bangladesh ranked 2nd in terms of ethical manufacturing due to world-class safety standards in the apparel industry.

Growing at 9.8% per annum, RMG exports more than tripled between 2008 and 2018. 

Exports worth $27.4 billion captured 6.30% of the $435 billion global markets of December 2020.

Shovon Islam, managing director of the Sparrow Group moderated the session.

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