Time to explore new markets for RMG

Lawmakers, political leaders and experts at a seminar here on Saturday laid emphasis on penetrating unexplored or under explored potential markets for the country’s readymade garments (RMG) products apart from efforts for product diversification and price competitiveness to keep continue the growth rate and sustainability of the sector, reports UNB.
As currently more than 80 per cent of apparel export sourced to USA and EU, the experts pointed out that Japan, Australia, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Singapore, Russia and United Arab Emirates could be new potential destinations for Bangladesh’s apparel products if it able to diversified products with quality, low production costs matching with the taste of consumers of developed nations.
Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) organized the seminar on the concluding day of 3-days the gala annual industry show-Chittagong Apparel, Fabric and Accessories Exposition-2010 (CAFAXPO-2010).
Experts from home and abroad presented three keynotes on different subjects of overall state and export potential of the industry presented at the seminar held at Chittagong Club auditorium this morning.
Former Commerce Minister and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industries Ministry Tofail Ahmed MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Textile and Jute Ministry Akhteruzzaman Chowdhury Babu MP and former Commerce Minister Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury spoke at the seminar as panel discussants.
BGMEA Vice President Faruque Hassan moderated the seminar held with First Vice President Nasiruddin Chowdhury in the chair.
BGMEA President Abdus Salam Murshedy and former First Vice President S M Abu Tayeb took part in the discussion.
Programme Coordinator of German trade promotion body GTZ Dr Dietrich Stotz presented keynote on “ Increased business through capacity development,” senior consultant of Technopak Gautam Mukherjee on “productivity and quality: Imperative for growth sustainability” while Senior Research Fellow of Dhaka based leading think tank CPD , Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem placed paper on “ LDC’s market access to developed and developing countries:
Implication for export diversification of Bangladesh’s apparel products” at the seminar.
The discussants opined that Bangladesh RMG sector could achieve a big growth if it could catch Japan’s 24 billion US dollar annual apparel market as Bangladesh is in a relatively advantageous position in terms of average weighted tariffs and also by cashing Japan’s priority import choice for synthetic made yarn and non-cotton fabric.
They said availability of adequate skilled human resources, healthy industrial atmosphere, on time delivery of export orders, desired quality, shorter lead time, low price and sustainable compliance are some key issues the sector should have and address effectively to reverse the current negative growth at the impact of global financial recession and consolidate its strength for healthy survival in the long run.
Some experts also stressed on economic diplomacy being pursued by the government should turned into more target oriented “ trade diplomacy” engaging joint efforts of all private and public level stakeholders like Ministry of Foreign Affairs particularly the Bangladesh mission to developed and developing nations , Ministry of Commerce , Export Promotion Bureau, BGMEA and BKMEA is most crucial for ensuring access to the country’s RMG products to rich markets.
Speaking on the occasion, former Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said pushing the country’s export earnings from 200 million US dollar in 1972-1973 to 15.56 billion US dollar in 2008-2009 fiscal indicates that contribution of the country’s RMG sector to the economy is huge.
He said the country’s total annual export earnings were reached to 6.7 billion US dollar in 2001 from 3.8 billion US dollar in 1996 when previous Awami League government left the power before general election.
Tofail Ahmed said the country achieved self-sufficiency in a number of industrial products like paper, CR coil and cement side by side substantial growth in RMG sector due to effective policy support during previous Awami League government of Sheikh Hasina in 1996-2001.
Akhteruzzaman Chowdhury Babu MP said entrepreneurs in RMG sector should work together closely with the government to overcome the existing problems in the sector and further growth of the industry.
He lauded the role of the industry in female empowerment by employing huge jobs for them.
Former Commerce Minister and BNP leader Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury said the country’s economy might collapse if there was no RMG industry and there is no further growth in the sector.
Referring recent unrest in the sector, he said there was no alternative of a congenial industrial relation for flourishing and survival of the sector and all should work together above politics for desired growth of the country’s key export industry.
Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem in his paper mentioned that the global financial crisis has appeared as a major test case for proving the resilience of Bangladesh’s apparel export sector as it registered a growth rate of 15.4 per cent in 2009 while ups- and-downs in export growth has continued in current 2009-2010 fiscal.
Searching for new markets and new products for the export- oriented apparels sectors is immediately required in a view of strengthening the export-base of RMG sector, he observed.
Dr Dietrich Stotz in his keynote said comprehensive initiative for skilled human resource development with the involvement of public- private partnership and capacity development to cope with constant changes in global trade should be looked with much importance for sustained growth of Bangladesh’s RMG sector.
Mautam Mukherjee in his paper said satisfactory compliance , price competitiveness and quality products are key areas Bangladeshi entrepreneurs needed to address to become top RMG exporting countries.

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