Despite the Corona epidemic, Bangladesh has overtaken Vietnam to become the second largest exporter of ready-made garments in the country. China is at the top as always. This history of rising to second place is not new to Bangladesh. In the 50th year of independence, the garment industry of Bangladesh is now dreaming of a new one.
In addition to eco-friendly green factories, the entrepreneurs of this industry want to export garments made of a new yarn. Bangladesh is dreaming of overtaking China to become the top garment exporter by producing man-made synthetic fibers or man-made fiber garments instead of the traditional cotton yarn.
Over the past decade, exports from India and Pakistan, two of the largest economies in South Asia, have declined, but at the same time, exports of ready-made garments to Bangladesh have increased by 80 per cent. According to BGMEA, the industry, which started just four decades ago, now has a total of 2,300 ready-made garment factories.
Of these, BGMEA has 874 factories. In addition, 135 eco-friendly green factories have been set up, 7 of which are in Bangladesh out of 10. Another 500 green factories have applied to the Green Building Council of the United States for recognition.
The industry, which started with 130 trainees under the late Nurul Quader Khan in the 1990-1991s, now has around half a crore workers. According to BGMEA, there were about 4 lakh workers in the garment factories in the 1990-91 financial year. And in 1996-97 financial year it increased to 13 lakhs. From 2002-03 to 2004-05 there were 20 lakhs.
In the financial year 2008-09, the number of these workers increased to 35 lakhs. At present, there are about 4.4 million male and female workers in the sector, most of whom (about 70 per cent) are female workers, according to BGMEA.
On March 3, The Wall Street Journal praised Bangladesh’s economic success, saying that in 2011 Bangladesh’s per capita income was 40 percent lower than India’s.
Bangladesh took over the country last year to make up for this shortfall. All in all, Bangladesh is now the emerging economic power of South Asia. Exports like South Korea, Vietnam and China are the main strengths of Bangladesh’s development. And one of the main sectors to increase this export is readymade garments.
One of the reasons behind the increase in garment exports is the huge number of women workers and low wages compared to other countries in the world. Such a presence of women in the labor force is not noticeable in the whole of South Asia.
This success of the last four decades in readymade garments is showing new dreams to the garment entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs in the readymade garments sector are now planning to export garments made of man-made fiber or man-made synthetic fibers to take advantage of more investment.
On the one hand, it will create opportunities for foreign investment in the backward linkage industry of the garment sector, on the other hand, it will create opportunities to further increase export earnings by producing high-value garments. Concerned people said that after independence, Bangladesh’s export products were few. The country’s export income was mainly dependent on jute. For this reason it was called golden fiber.
The picture has been changing since the eighties. Entrepreneurs of the country found another gold. They started exporting garments made of cotton woven cloth. Garment factories are being set up one by one in the country. His next story is just a history of success. In 2021, the 50th year of independence, the ready-made garment sector has accounted for 80 per cent of the country’s total export earnings.
The industry is also at the forefront of the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ branding campaign going on abroad. Not only export sector, but also investment and employment sector is now at the top. But despite all this, the entrepreneurs are moving forward with the dream of becoming number one in the international world.
And to realize this dream, they want to set up man-made fiber factories as well as foreign investment in the backward linkage industry in the garment sector.
Entrepreneurs in the garment sector say that 84% of the garments made in Bangladesh are cotton based. Basically, 85 percent of the country’s products are made on five basic items. Again, to make these garments, at least 70 to 85 percent of the oven fabric has to be imported.
It is not possible to survive in the world market for a long time with a short variety of cotton based garments. For this, besides setting up man-made fiber factories, it is necessary to attract foreign investment in the backward linkage industry.
And the entrepreneurs argue to attract foreign investment in the backward linkage sector, (1) The country’s ready-made garment industry produces 4 lakh metric tons of jute products a year. By recycling this lie alone, if the initiative is taken to produce yarn, it is possible to save at least 4 billion US dollars in this sector; (2) Different types of spare parts are used in the readymade garment industry of the country.
In the 2018-19 financial year, 1,605 million US dollars was spent on the import of 28 types of parts. Foreign investment in this sector will save valuable foreign exchange; And (3) according to international market forecasts, the country’s textile chemical market, which was 84 million in 2019, could grow to ৮ 1.38 billion in 2024 by investing in man-made fiber.
According to the concerned, this future plan of Bangladesh’s ready-made garment sector has also been presented to the World Bank Group IFC. The international organization has promised to finance the strategic development of Bangladesh’s garment sector. Press conference of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Exporters Association (BGMEA) at a virtual meeting of World Bank Group IFC recently