Germany has assured Bangladesh of finding ways to safeguard the survival of the latter’s textile industry amid the threat caused by the coronavirus pandemic across the world.
"I greatly hope that we will find an approach that will safeguard the survival of the textile industry in Germany and also in Bangladesh, with the millions of people working in that sector," said German federal minister for economic cooperation and development Gerd Müller. "I will not forget the workers in Bangladesh," he added.
The German assurance came in response to an appeal of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Dr Rubana Huq.
Terming Bangladesh one of the most important partners of German textile industry, the German minister said he has every understanding of the concerns expressed by the BGMEA chief.
In a letter to the German minister, Ms Huq had requested measures so that German brands sourcing from Bangladesh do not cancel or hold any shipment up.
She had also informed the German minister about Bangladesh’s assurance to brands that they (buyers) can pay 90 days later. However, they still need to take the ordered goods, she had pointed out.
Explaining the fact that Bangladesh has a different manufacturing reality, the BGMEA chief had urged the German brands to take in all their goods, and allow shipments and production to continue till July at least to help reduce the disastrous impact on labour force and business.
As of Tuesday, according to the trade body, some 843 factories reported that buyers had cancelled or put hold on orders more than US $2.25 billion due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In order to cushion the impact of the pandemic on the production countries such as Bangladesh, the German federal minister on Tuesday said his ministry is currently evaluating a number of different support measures aimed at ensuring that the production companies are able to stay in business and at safeguarding jobs and incomes.
"In this current emergency, demand and orders for certain products, such as protective medical clothing in particular, are changing," he said expressing hope that, for this interim period, Bangladesh will receive orders for these products.
The corona pandemic has placed the world in a state of emergency, Mr Muller said in the reply.
Restrictions have been imposed on free movement, restaurants and shops have had to close, he added.
This has hit the German textile industry particularly hard, he said adding that some companies have experienced a 70 per cent drop in consumer demand.
Associations representing the textile industry fear that a third of German textile businesses are under threat of collapse, Mr Müller said.
"What makes the situation even more difficult is that nobody knows how long the corona pandemic will maintain its grip on the world," he mentioned.
"Let me assure you that I share your concern regarding the social distress threatening to engulf textile companies and their workers in Bangladesh," said the German minister.
In response to the BGMEA president's appeal, he said, "I therefore now intend to pass your urgent request on to representatives of the German textile industry."
Mr Muller looked back on his visit to Dhaka several weeks ago and on the open and informative discussion with the BGMEA chief.
"Yet how quickly developments can take a different turn, as we are currently experiencing with the insidious corona virus, which is bringing life to a standstill not only here in Germany but worldwide, including in your country," the German minister wrote.
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