BANGLADESH: Political confrontation hits garment sector: BGMEA President

DHAKA: Political confrontation and the growing menace of militancy are being considered as the major hurdles in taking the country's apparel industry forward in the post-MFA era; BGMEA president Tipu Munshi said here on December 09.

The new chief of the apex body in the apparel sector expressed his concern over the militancy saying such anti-state acts have been badly hurting the image of the industry and country as a whole abroad.

"Buyers have started to deny to come to Bangladesh citing security reasons and they were asking us to go to a third country for negotiation. This will eventually lead them (buyers) to leave the country forever," said the BGMEA president who took over the office of shared tenure a couple of weeks back.

Tipu Munshi, who took up the RMG business in 1985, pointed out that the country's apparel sector would be destroyed unless the growing menace of militancy is dealt with effectively by the government.

"Our export will suffer… the government have to curb the militancy and bombings anyhow to keep up the economic growth as far as the RMG sector is concerned, which contributes 70 percent of total annual export earnings," he said.

About possible political unrest ahead of the next general elections, the BGMEA president said congenial political atmosphere is the main precondition for any country to boost industrial growth.

"We always request all the political parties to keep the apparel sector out of their agitation," he said, recognising that political parties in general hold a positive approach towards the industry.

Referring to the present era of competitive globalised economy, he underscored the need for stable law and order situation, development of backward linkage industry, setting up of deep seaport, infrastructure development at Chittagong port, reduction of lead time and SAARC cumulation.

Tipu Munshi, who is also the chairman of Sepal Group, said that adoption of social compliance has nowadays also become a very important means to boost the apparel exports.

"We will be able to explore new markets if we can comply with the social issues and utilise the other means," he said.

The BGMEA chief pledged to continue his effort for the passage of the TRADE Act in USA to avail duty-free access of Bangladeshi products on the US market.

"I also prefer to find out alternative markets, which remain unexplored by Bangladesh," said Tipu Munshi.

Referring to a recent order from India, he said: "We've begun to explore Indian market for the first time. There is lot of potentials… some effort and political stability can bring something substantial for our industry."

Bangladesh recently received an export order for 500,000 dozens of RMG products from India.

Asked if the child labour still exist in the RMG sector, the apparel sector tycoon outright rejected the allegation saying that they are keeping strict watch on the industrial units in this regard.

"Over 99 percent out of around 3,000 factories are completely free from child labour," he said.

Replying to a query, Tipu Munshi renewed the BGMEA demand of reopening the Benapole land port for import of yarn from India as yarn prices went up abnormally in the local market.

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Added: December 10, 2005 Source: Agencies
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