Experts and businesses on Monday said that the country’s readymade garment businesses must shorten the lead time related to product shipment and go for artificial fibre and the government should allow foreign direct investment in the sector to fight off post-pandemic challenges.
At a webinar on assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Bangladesh RMG sector, they also observed that the concentration in products, material mix and markets together with lower market share in manmade fibre were undermining the RMG growth potential.
The France Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Policy Research Institute organised the webinar.
Bangladesh needs to shorten its lead time by developing its backward linkage industries as current dependency on imports for MMF and inefficient customs processing have contributed to much longer lead time, PRI executive director Ahsan H Mansur said.
‘Investing heavily on from backward linkage integration to manufacturing of yarns and fabrics would be the central elements of post-COVID-19 recovery efforts,’ he said.
Ahsan said that Bangladesh should strive for heavy investments in digitising the process and transforming value chains as the product development would become more flexible and agile to face the post-pandemic challenges.
Seeking investments from France, he said that it should be an issue for discussion to attract investments from the France companies which were interested to leave China.
Kihak Sung, chairman of Youngone Corporation, said that the FDI was very important for the RMG sector in Bangladesh as foreign investments would bring new technology.
He said that the global companies who were interested to migrate from China were considering Vietnam due to equitable policy of the country.
Kihak said that they exported products worth $100 million to France a year but they lost 25 per cent of their business in the country in the last fiscal year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
‘We are suffering a lot due to the drastic fall in consumption on the global market,’ he said.
Deepak Dsouza, chief executive officer of Decathlon Sports Bangladesh, said that they worked with 60 factories what employed one lakh people and no factory lost business from the brand.
‘Although COVID-19 has posed huge challenges for business, we are committed to taking all the orders from Bangladesh,’ he said.
Deepak said that Bangladesh produced only 6 per cent of synthetic products but demand for the synthetic textiles had been increasing gradually in the European Union and the United States.
He said that to face the post-pandemic challenges Bangladesh should think about how to reduce lead time and increase the production of synthetic products.
Rubana Huq, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said that Bangladeshi suppliers faced problems in France as two brands cancelled their orders fully and filed applications for bankruptcy.
She emphasised ethical buying practices, saying that fulfilling the promised payment terms by the buyers could ensure wellbeing of the RMG workers.
Rubana proposed an unemployment fund to support the workers who would lose their jobs due to the pandemic.
Foreign secretary Masud bin Momen said that the government was facilitating businesses so that they could tap the potentials of changed situation on the global market.
Citing the opportunity of personal protective equipment business, he said that Bangladesh exported PPE worth $6.6 million.
The foreign secretary also said that the government was working to capture the part of the investments diverting from China.
Syed Mahmudul Huq, president of the CCIFB, and Mahbubul Anam, former president of the Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association, also spoke at the event, among others.
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