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The Financial Express

Bangladesh has huge potential for producing TT, PPE: Study

| Updated: October 14, 2021 17:15:10


Bangladeshi garment workers make protective suit at a factory amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Dhaka, Bangladesh on March 31, 2020 — Reuters/Files Bangladeshi garment workers make protective suit at a factory amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Dhaka, Bangladesh on March 31, 2020 — Reuters/Files

Bangladesh has huge potential in technical textiles (TT) and personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturing, as the global market for these items is projected to grow to more than US$300 billion by 2025, according to a study.

It, however, identified a number of critical challenges, including uncontrolled unit costs and lead time, lack of certification for raw and processed materials, and absence of marketing intelligence and branding, that currently limit the country's potentials to grab the global TT/PPE market.

The global market for TT and PPE is projected to grow to $224 billion and $93 billion respectively by 2025, according to the findings of a feasibility study - 'Scaling up Production of TTs including PPEs in Bangladesh' - conducted by GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit).

The study findings along with a number of recommendations were disclosed at a virtual webinar on Tuesday.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Faruque Hassan, and German Ambassador to Bangladesh Achim Tröster, among others, spoke at the event.

GIZ Bangladesh Country Director Angelika Fleddermann, Textile Cluster Coordinator Werner Lange and Business Scout Thomas Hübner, and BGMEA Director Abdullah Hil Rakib were also present.

Charles Dagher, one of the authors of the study, presented a list of the most important critical gaps that currently limit potential growth of the sub-sector.

He also mentioned that absence of collaboration within industry, low international recognition as suitable TT/PPE sub-sector supplier, little awareness among key players of traditional textile and clothing sector are negatively impacting its competitiveness.

Inadequate capacity to master new technologies, limited training for technical or human resources management, and slow customs clearance and other procedures are also affecting the growth potentials, he noted.

"Bangladesh should not market itself primarily as a low-cost and low-wage supplier. Rather, the country should brand itself as a reliable supplier of full package services and competitively priced products - conforming quality, safety and testing standards - to the major markets like EU and USA," he added.

The study suggested concentrating on a limited number of products to establish reliable material supply channels, ensuring correct quality production, and attaining necessary certifications for products.

The study identified 18 products, of which 16 are classified as medical and two as non-medical. These products belong more or less to the same product family, allowing the traditional textiles and apparel (T&A) manufacturers to rapidly adapt their existing operations to the new product lines with minimal technical training.

Once successful production system is achieved, the sub-sector would be able to promote the 'Made in Bangladesh' PPE label further in the international market, start relationships with major PPE sourcing agencies, and attract more foreign and national investors for further development of the sector, it recommended.

"Only the most cost-effective and efficient companies can thrive in the competitive and complex TT/PPE sub-sector."

The study also suggested that all manufacturing processes must shift from the traditional push concept to pull production through application of lean principles to sustain or reduce costs, eliminate waste, and speed up deliveries.

Speaking at the event, the BGMEA president said, "At this juncture we need investment and technical knowhow from the developed part of the world. Our industry is ready to cater the growing market of the TT/PPE, and their demand is on the rise."

He also called for joint venture in this segment, and sought support from the brands, testing services companies and technology suppliers to join hands and take the country's potentials to reality.

Snowtex assistant director Tariqul Islam, however, warned entrepreneurs to be cautious about PPE manufacturing, saying the demand for the items might go down in future with the improvement of Covid situation globally.

Mr Thomas Hübner recommended participating in trade shows to display Bangladesh's strength in this sub-sector and develop business relation with potential buyers.

Mr Tröster noted that they cooperated with Bangladesh textile sector through this study, and would give strategic impulses for further development of the technical sub-sector.

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