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The Financial Express

Apparel export orders shifting from India, Myanmar to Bangladesh

| Updated: July 03, 2021 16:31:12


Apparel export orders shifting from India, Myanmar to Bangladesh

The military coup in Myanmar and a grave Covid-19 situation in India have proved to be a boon to Bangladesh's apparel industry.

Some export orders from these countries are now shifting to Bangladesh, exporters and economists said on Friday.

Since labour and logistical support-related problems emerged in both the countries in recent months and the garment manufacturing units there faced a production setback, the shifting of orders is taking place, they also said.

Maintaining a better health protocol in the country's ready-made garment (RMG) units prompted the foreign buyers, especially the European and US-based ones, to shift their orders to Bangladesh, they added.

"India has been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and Myanmar is now under the military rule. So, buyers of apparel products of those countries are shifting some orders to Bangladesh," Faruque Hassan, President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told the FE.

Bangladesh has been able to gain the confidence of foreign buyers by maintaining ethical and health protocols in garment manufacturing units, he said. This has facilitated the shifting of orders to the country, he added.

Policy Research Institute (PRI) Executive Director Dr Ahsan H Mansur said: "Most of the factories in Myanmar are now closed. Workers and logistical facilitators have suspended their works there."

"On the other hand, a severe coronavirus situation has disrupted availability of workers and logistical system in India in the recent months. So, their production has been hampered there also", he said.

These factors have become a boon to the Bangladeshi RMG industry, Dr Mansur opined.

Meanwhile, World Bank's former lead economist Dr Zahid Hussain said they had already got the news of shifting export orders to Bangladesh from India and Myanmar due to massive Covid transmission in the South Asian neighbouring competitor and military coup in the East Asian neighbour.

"I think, these are among the factors contributing to a better export growth of Bangladesh's apparel sector," he told the FE.

India's Covid pandemic started to swell from this April, and the country saw more than 4,000 deaths and 400,000 cases daily early last month.

Myanmar army seized control of the country on February 1 following a general election, which Ms Suu Kyi's NLD party won by a landslide.

Bangladeshi garment manufacturers and business insiders said the importers have almost suspended their orders to Myanmar after the military coup.

Mohammad Hatem, Managing Director of MB Knit Fashion Ltd and Vice President of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), said the local apparel producers were getting some additional orders from the buyers in the recent months.

Many of the orders were shifted from Myanmar and India due to the ongoing problems in those countries.

"I have received some additional orders in recent months from some buyers, who usually import from India and Myanmar. I have declined many of the orders due to price factor."

"Had I taken those orders, I could receive 50 per cent more orders than I have now," Mr Hatem told the FE.

Mr Faruque said Walt Disney, a big US-based buyer, was going to restart its apparel sourcing from Bangladesh from this month after a long break due to the Tazreen Fashion fire and Rana Plaza collapse incidents.

The US-based buyer also imported products from India and Myanmar, he added.

Meanwhile, economists suggested local RMG manufacturers to continue their business operations with utmost confidence, so that they did not lose the orders that they have received from Myanmar and India.

Dr Zahid Hussain said the government should ensure 100 per cent vaccination of the adults within the shortest possible time to help restore confidence among the foreign buyers to continue business with Bangladesh.

Dr Mansur said the local apparel manufacturers should set up environment-friendly factories, and invest more in man-made fibre for upgrading their capacity and creating greater confidence among the buyers.

Another report adds: The Walt Disney Company commonly known as Disney will reinstate Bangladesh as its sourcing destination eight years after the American conglomerate suspended buying apparel from the country since the 2013 tragic industrial incidents.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Faruque Hassan confirmed the latest developments on Friday.

Mr Hassan said he had a discussion simultaneously with Disney during the June 30 meeting with American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA). Disney, also a member of AAFA, was present at the virtual meeting.

"On Friday morning, the Disney has confirmed its decision to relist Bangladesh as its permitted sourcing country with international labour standards," the BGMEA president said.

Welcoming the move, Mr Hassan said Disney's return to Bangladesh is the recognition to all-out progresses and transformation taken place in the country's readymade garment (RMG) industry, particularly in the area of workplace safety, social standards and environmental sustainability.

The factories participating in the International Labour Organization's (ILO) Better Work Bangladesh (BWB) program will be entitled to become a Disney vendor, he said, adding that the factories also need to participate in the Nirapon or RMG Sustainability Council along with specific remediation fulfilment criteria.

According to BWB, a total of 277 local RMG factories are engaged with its programme.

Over the past years, the industry has made unprecedented efforts and investments to ensure safety covering fire, electrical and structural integrity, a robust follow-up of factory remediation, to create a culture of safety while promoting wellbeing of the workers, the BGMEA president noted.

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