The Bangladesh Apparel Summit was held at the InterContinental Melbourne on 18 July 2023. The Summit was organized by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA) in collaboration with the HSBC Bank, supported by the High Commission of Bangladesh to Australia.
This event signified a milestone in fostering collaboration and strengthening the bonds between the apparel manufacturing industries of Bangladesh and Australian retailers.
This summit brought together a number of 130 participants from diverse range of stakeholders, including buyers, retailers, suppliers, consumers, development partners, and the supportive Australian government policymakers, creating an opportunity for fruitful discussions, meaningful interactions, and the exchange of ideas and information.
Throughout the day, the esteemed speakers shared their insights through opening plenary and two panel discussions titled ‘Trade between Australia and Bangladesh – Charting the path for next decade’ and ‘Sustainability matters – ESG collaborations to shape the future of fashion’.
The President of BGMEA Faruque Hassan delivered a keynote presentation highlighting the immense potential of Bangladesh and critical issues such as supply chain transparency, responsible sourcing, and ethical manufacturing practices. He solicited collaboration for a future where the fashion industry flourishes prioritizing the social, environmental and responsible business norms and values.
The tremendous contributions of the Australian apparel market to the growth of the Bangladesh garment industry was underscored, both during the pandemic and in the post-pandemic era. Discussions also encompassed issues related to rights and wellbeing of the workers, and ethical sourcing practices and sustainable trading by brands fostering responsible business.
The speakers also stressed upon the importance of trade policies enabling business and economic interests of both countries, particularly with regard to policy priorities to support smoother transition for Bangladesh’s graduation from LDC.
The High Commissioner of Bangladesh M. Allama Siddiki brought in the perspective of historic and cultural connections between the two nations, and urge to exploit it for strengthening bilateral trade and investments on mutual interests.
Among the speakers, the Managing Director of Kmart Group Ian Bailey praised Bangladesh’s transformation on social and environmental sides, while stressed on the importance of leveraging industry level data and information sharing to steer supply chain efficiency and productivity. He opined to upgrade the tier 2 and tier 3 factories in Bangladesh while continuing the ESG standards in tier 1 factories.
Antony Shaw, CEO of HSBC Australia praised the progresses Bangladesh has made in its industry and the overall infrastructure. While HSBC takes pride in being a partner of this transformation, he reiterated continued partnership with Bangladesh.
Other significant speakers of the Summit include Shahidullah Azim, Vice President, BGMEA, Asif Ashraf, Director, BGMEA; Shovon Islam Shawn, Managing Director of Sparrow Group; Shams Mahmud, Managing Director of Sha Sha Denims; Leila Naja Hibri, CEO, Australian Fashion Council; Lyn Morgain, Chief Executive, Oxfam Australia; Mahbub-ur-Rahman, CEO, HSBC Bangladesh; Rachid Maliki, General Manager – Global Sourcing & Supply chain, Country Road; Charith Jayasundera, ESG Strategy Expert, KPMG Australia. The summit was also attended by Md. Moshiul Azam Shajal, former Vice President, BGMEA.
Joanne Ryan MP, Federal Member for Lalor and Chief Government Whip made her special remarks at the closing of the event assuring policy supports that benefits people and economies of both countries.
The Shadow Minister for Trade and Investment David Southwick MP, and Matt Fregon, MP also attended the sessions in the Summit.
The event included an exclusive photo exhibition of Bangladesh and its rich heritage and nature. A product showcasing was organised featuring the latest collections and diverse portfolio, which gave a clear impression of Bangladesh’s capability. This has earned wide appreciation. The participants enjoyed the delicacies served by MasterChef Australia Kishwar Chowdhury at the dinner.