BKMEA to reach $100b export target by 2030

Mohammad Hatem, Executive President, BKMEA 

Mohammad Hatem, Executive President, BKMEA 
Photo: Mohammad Hatem, Executive President, BKMEA 

Despite the COVID-19 Pandemic and due to recent Russia-Ukraine war energy price crisis all around the world, we are still managed to fulfil our export target in 2021-2022 by exporting 42.61 billion and in the first 8 months of the fiscal year 2022-23 we already exported around 35.79 billion whereas our export target was around 31 billion USD for the same period. We already are in surplus of our export target.

We are hopeful about our target to reach the $100 billion export mark by 2030.

• Considering the growing awareness of climate change and workers’ rights regarding the garment industry, Bangladesh is the safest apparel-sourcing country globally.

• Currently, Bangladesh has 192 USGBC-certified green garment industries, Among these green-certified garment factories, 66 are platinum rated, 121 are gold rated, and 10 are silver rated. 500 more garment factories are in the pipeline for getting green certification from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) for their green initiatives. We also ensured labour rights including but not limited to annual leaves, maternity benefits, non-discriminatory practices, gender equality, workplace & fire safety, occupational health and safety, social governance and grievance mechanism.

• Many important steps are taken to improve compliance and workplace safety in the garment industry. This has led to an increase in the cost of production, as factories have invested a lot of money in safety measures and pay higher wages to their workers. As a result, we are selling products ensuring that our products are produced in a safe and compliant manner.

• We can proudly say that we are maintaining the world’s highest standards on workplace safety and social compliance measures. I am happy to share with you that our garment entrepreneurs have already embraced the mindset to make Bangladesh’s garment industry is an example of the best industry globally becoming a more ethical, sustainable, and successful industry, providing value to workers, consumers, and stakeholders alike.

• We are also working in collaboration with international organizations ILO, GIZ, ADB, and Nutrition International to transform the sector increasing its productivity towards a sustainable industry.

• Besides following all compliance measures, to run the business we still have to take certifications from different bodies such as- ISO, BSCI, SEDEX, Higg-index, STEP, WRAP, OCS, RWS, RDS, GRS, RCS 100, SFA and so on. It costs more than 40 thousand USD dollar yearly to maintain these certifications which is very costly at the same time a burden for manufacturers. Through this business summit, I would like to request different organizations, governments, and stakeholders to collaborate on this issue by taking initiative to start a unified certification system.

• Bangladesh has improved a lot in quality, product diversity, and compliances compared to its competitor countries but international buyers and brands are consistently paying lower than the global average price to garment suppliers in Bangladesh but higher than some of the country’s competitors. Buyers hardly talk about the fair product price topic. Buyers also should pay fair and ethical prices for the products as Bangladesh is producing products following all compliances.

Further areas to focus
• Producing more value-added products for the sustainability of the RMG industry.
• To gain sustainability in our industry there is no substitute for investing in technology and automation.
• Investment in research and development
• Bangladesh’s garment industry can improve competitiveness by developing a comprehensive supply chain that includes backwards and forward linkages together.
• The development of skilled labor is crucial for the success of the industry. Providing training and education programs to workers.

I want to end my discussion by saying that sustainability and ensuring continuous improvement of the garment industry in Bangladesh requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders, including buyers, manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, and the government. By addressing its challenges, the industry can become more competitive, profitable, and sustainable in the long run.

Finally, I want to add that our prime minister has taken a great initiative to build Special Economic Zones. This made Bangladesh an ideal place to invest. I would like to invite our foreign investors to invest more in Bangladesh.