Apparel Summit ends identifying challenges & opportunities for $50 billion export goal
10 December 2014, Nirapad News : The summit meet of Bangladesh apparel-makers in Dhaka with the industry’s international clientele concluded on Tuesday, identifying the prevailing challenges and opportunities for attaining a $50 billion export goal. The apex body of the country’s readymade garment industry organised the Dhaka Apparel Summit at a time when the largest export-earning sector has been facing some odds, especially in respect of workplace safety and labour-right issues.
The first edition was deemed a success successful, attracting over 10,000 participants including representatives of Bangladesh’s ready-made garment (RMG) factories, international brands, worker organizations, fire-safety-equipment vendors and NGOs. Its aim was to shape a more sustainable and responsible global supply chain and to open and further the dialogue between stakeholders to frame a sustainable road map on building responsible supply chains in the textiles and garment sector. It brought garment-industry leaders together with leading international safety-equipment vendors and experts to help increase access to the latest safety expertise, tools and technologies in Bangladesh.
It proved that Bangladeshi apparel-makers are now aware of fire, electrical and building safety and they have already invested millions of dollars in this respect to lift the compliance to global standards.
Access to internationally certified safety equipment, now required in many cases as a result of recent factory-safety reforms, has historically been a tremendous challenge for Bangladesh factory owners. Very little certified equipment is made locally in Bangladesh, with nearly all requiring import.
“Unless the right equipment and practices are accessible to factory owners, sustainable reform cannot be achieved,” M Rabin, managing director of Alliance, one of the organizers of the expo, said.
He adds: As a platform for diverse stakeholders, the Expo allowed vendors, brands and factory management to discuss lessons learned and share strategies for remediating factories and strengthening the industry. Participants will attend lecture tracks to learn about the latest advances in fire doors, sprinklers and engineering assessments.
Better infrastructure, availability of power and gas, skilled workers and managers have been given top priorities in achieving the target while the seminars emphasized knowledge, education, conducive policy and legislation, CETP for environmental sustainability.
The suggestions that came from the summit will be presented in a book, which organizers said will help the sector get to the golden goal of $50-billion export.
The summit’s theme was “Bangladesh RMG 2021: $50 Billion on the 50th Anniversary of Bangladesh”, stressing the aim of reaching an RMG export volume of 50 billion US dollars by 2021. The session dedicated to this theme focused on devising a strategic action plan to overcome Bangladesh’s existing challenges and to realize its potentials. “Achieving 50 billion US dollars should not be the goal. Profit and better life should be the goal,” commented Kihak Sung.
Among the priority issues discussed were infrastructure, establishing a deep sea port, SEZs, power, gas, human resources development, compliance issues, prudent commercial diplomacy and political stability, supportive policies and coordination between different government agencies, product and market diversification. Market diversification strategies and dynamics in global tariff structure were also on the agenda. “Infrastructure, energy, education need to be ensured to achieve the target”, confirmed Ellen O’Kane Tauscher, chair, board of directors, Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.
Francois de Maricourt, CEO of HSBC Limited, Bangladesh stressed the importance of good governance, education and efficiency to reach the export target of 50 billion US dollars. “If we can increase the efficiency by 10 percent, then reaching the target will be possible. The government should reduce duty on import. Reaching the target will be easy if we can ensure good infrastructure”, found Kihak Sung.
Last but not least, a session titled “Environmental Sustainability – A must” was dedicated to exploring ways to achieve environmentally sustainable economic growth in a densely populated country like Bangladesh. It also examined how the RMG sector can meet the required standards. This included discussions on environmental health and safety, resource efficiency, the environmental footprint, a global agenda on the environment, the impact on buying patterns as well as preparedness and green concepts.
“The opportunities for Bangladesh are growing. If the progress continues with the pace it was over the last 18 months, then there is no question that Bangladesh will reach the target of 50 billion US dollars”, summed up Rick Darling, executive director for government and public affairs, Li & Fung.