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2022 was the year of comeback and rebuild the economy

2022 was the year of comeback and rebuild the economy. Despite all the challenges created by century’s biggest disaster Covid-19, we proved our resilience and turned around.

We are in a new challenge as the advanced economies are heading toward recession, while our economy hasn’t fully recovered from the crisis of the pandemic yet. Due to the current geopolitical crisis, on the one hand, the price of commodities, including fuel oil, food raw materials prices are rising, on the other hand, the global inflation rate hits the record of 8.8% in 2022 which was 4.7% in 2021. As a result, the demand and purchasing power of products in the international market is declining. All these are affecting the retail sales market as well as disrupting the global supply chain.

Though the difficulties are there but at the same time opportunities are boundless. The RMG export is continuously thriving which is a sign of hope. In the last fiscal year 2021-22, our RMG export was USD 42.61 billion. Thus a new landmark has been in our history of RMG manufacturing as we exceeded the 40 billion dollar mark in 40 years of journey. Apart from the major markets EU &USA, our export share in non-traditional markets has become double from 6.87% in FY2008-09 to 14.96% in FY2021-22. Among the major non-traditional markets, Japan, India and South Korea’s growth were significant.

As per the “World Trade Statistical Review” by WTO in 2021, Bangladesh has regained its ranking as the 2nd largest apparel exporter in the world with a 6.37 percent share of the global market. Bangladesh has already become the top denim-sourcing country for the U.S.A. & EU. Now we are in close competition with the largest apparel exporter in China.

2022 will also remain a distinct year for us as we exceeded 50 billion dollars in export this year while we are celebrating 50 years of our independence, at the same time the year will be marked as a year of thriving infrastructure in Bangladesh as Padma Bridge opened the horizon of new opportunities and few other mega projects are awaiting for completion. This is really a significant accomplishment for us.

A number of accomplishments have been added to our success list of the RMG industry in 2022. One of the major priorities that we have been focusing on is ‘Apparel Diplomacy’.

In 2022, we have realigned our vision with ESG priorities and the Sustainable Development Goal 2030. We have the highest number of LEED green RMG factories certified by USGBC. Currently, the number of LEED Green factories is 183 of which 60 are platinum.

We are not only confined to sustainability but BGMEA has established the “Centre for Innovation, Efficiency and OSH” at its own premise. Through this center, we will focus on newer avenues of enhancing our sustainability vision & competitiveness through efficiency improvement and cost optimization. One of the biggest success in 2022 was “Made in Bangladesh Week”.

Going forward, not only in 2023 but also in next decade, we have to keep and continue all of these transformations. Achieving excellence in products, fiber, and markets diversification and value addition are the key opportunities for this sector. We need to develop our capacity in backward & forward linkage industry. At the same time, we need to focus on innovation, technological up-gradation, design & skill development and overall business capabilities.

We need to accelerate our initiatives towards green transformation and make it accessible for all the tiers of factories, particularly small & medium factories. Virtual marketplace can also be a gateway for SMEs to go global.

The author is a director of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the additional managing director of Denim Expert Ltd

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