Braving all adversaries, Bangladesh’s ready-made garment products export marked nearly 13% growth in last fiscal year with the amount totalling US$21.5bn, shows Export Promotion Bureau data released recently
In the previous fiscal, the figure was $19bn despite the EU countries, Bangladesh RMG’s major destinations, were hit by recession.
This rapidly growing sector of the country recently suffered one of the worst industrial accidents in history killing at least 1,129 workers in Savar. Just months before, a fire accident in a garment factory in Ashulia, outskirts of Dhaka, also caused 111 deaths. There were also several accidents though less deadly.
Following these deadly incidents, the work condition in RMG factories in Bangladesh has been hit by severe criticisms, both locally and internationally. The major global brands were also lambasted, who later reached agreements to contribute to improve working condition of the factories that supply garments to them.
Even calls were also made from different sections to stop sourcing garments from Bangladesh. The US suspended GSP over Bangladeshi products and urged Bangladesh authorities to improve working condition in factories to get back the facility. Besides, the factories had suffered huge labour protests.
As this is the situation, the garment export of Bangladesh was feared to face a drop in figure. But it continued to grow and contributed 86% of total $27bn export during the just concluded fiscal.
Both kinds of product- knitwear and woven- saw rises in export in the fiscal with nearly 15% for woven totalling more than $11bn and 10.4% for knitwear amounting to $10.5bn.
“Main challenge is now to ensure compliance in factories,” said Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of Exporters’ Association of Bangladesh (EAB).
He said the new fiscal would be a tough year for Bangladesh export sector. “We already shut down some units as they were in gross violation of rules and guidelines,” said Murshedy, who is also ex-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh keeps searching for new markets to reduce dependence on its traditional export destinations like the US and the European countries.
“We are thinking of Russia as one of potential markets. Decision has been taken to send a trade mission to the country,” Shubhashish Bose, vice chairman of Export Promotion Bureau, told the Dhaka Tribune.
He said Japan, Latin American countries, South Africa, Liberia, Namibia, Ivory Cost and Jamaica are on the priority list of new destinations for apparel sector.
Abdus Salam Murshedy said to retain export Bangaldesh would need to not only ensure compliance but also provide adequate gas and power supply to the industries.