Message from Faruque Hassan, President, BGMEA
I am privileged to have this opportunity to reach out to you again after quite a long time. It has always been a pleasure for me share and update you about the industry, trade and global market, and I would like to continue this from now on regularly.
COVID has brought us to an unprecedented situation; we all know how difficult has this been for us for the past one and half year. The pandemic has affected people from all walks of the society and economy. RMG industry has been particularly affected as we faced order cancellation and non-payment related issues at unusual proportion.
Factories were closed for 45-75 days, and exports dropped by 18% in FY2019-20 (i.e. July 2019 – June 2020). Factory re-opening was also a challenging call since we had to comply with stringent health protocol. Thanks to my fellow entrepreneurs for the resilience and commitment to bring our operations back to normal pace.
We must also pay our gratitude to the government of Bangladesh for the unprecedented support throughout the pandemic to help the industry stay on course. We are trying to recover and turn around again. Though export is recovering gradually, the industry is struggling with cost and price and our factories are struggling to get a breakeven price.
However, the challenges and uncertainties apart, we have some good news that I would like to share with you today to give it an optimistic start. I am sure you have followed the daily news and are already updated.
It is a tremendous pride for us that BGMEA has been honored with the “2021 USGBC Leadership Award” for its exemplary leadership in promoting environmental sustainability and green industrialization in the RMG industry. BGMEA is the only association in the world to receive such award and to be recognized as the pioneer in global green industries.
You would be glad to know that Bangladesh is the home of the highest number of green garment factories in the world. We have 144 LEED factories certified by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) of which 41 are Platinum, 89 Gold, 12 Silver, and 3 certified factories. These factories are not only environment friendly safe but also meet international standard safety and working atmosphere including workplace hygiene, air quality, etc.
Needless to mention that the revolution which has happened in the industry in the past 10 years not only in the area of workplace safety but also in the area of being green and resource-efficient has set an unique example in the world. This would not have happened without the vision and all out efforts by the entrepreneurs, and we need to remember that all the transformation is happening at a time when the industry is confronted with a number of challenges locally and internationally. I salute my colleagues for taking the initiatives after facing all the odds and instability.
At the same time, let me also share proudly that Bangladesh is ranked 2nd in Ethical Manufacturing by a Hong Kong-based supply chain compliance solutions provider “QIMA”. With a score of 7.7 Bangladesh is rated only behind Taiwan who scored 8.0. The ethical auditing report covered a vast horizon of compliance and ethical manufacturing of the industry i.e. hygiene, health and safety, waste management, child labor, labor practices including forced labor, worker representation, disciplinary practices, discrimination, working hours, wages, etc. In this challenging time of COVID, maintaining such level of compliance only testifies our resilience and commitment for the betterment of the workers, industry and community.
At present, Bangladesh is not only the second-largest export earner or the exporter of basic garments item or the competitive sourcing destination but also Bangladesh is the number one in terms of safety, security, environment friendly, trusted, sustainable and dependable sourcing country. Let me cite from the recent study report by the globally reported consulting firm, McKinsey and Company, titled “What’s next for Bangladesh’s garments industry after a decade of growth”. The report highlights the changes that have taken place in Bangladesh’s garment industry over the past ten years in terms of transparency, safety and security, diversifications, entrepreneurship, and strategic management.
We have to keep and continue all of these transformations and momentum that we have achieved, but most importantly we need to upgrade our business model. If we cannot upgrade the business capabilities and value addition of the industry, the achievements in environmental and social fronts will be uncertain. So the next story of transformation should be around how we can go for innovation, up-gradation, value addition, diversification, and the 4th Industrial revolution. I would sincerely request all our colleagues to think about these areas of business excellence while planning for business investment for the next decade.