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Misleading reports on US sanctions and BGMEA’s clarification

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Desk Report: Recently BGMEA has noticed some speculative media reports containing misleading information about the so called ‘sanctions’ against Bangladesh imposed by U.S.A. and implication on trade and cross border transactions. There is no evidence in support of such report, except a few anecdotes. BGMEA issues this statement as a clarification in the general interest of its members, as well as in the interest of the economy at large.

The Embassy of Bangladesh in the Washington D.C. issued a press statement on 31 January 2022 (copy enclosed) which quotes Congressman Gregory W Meeks, Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as – “We want to make sure that we are not (imposing any sanctions) against Bangladesh and we are still working with the government and people of Bangladesh”.

A Bangla tabloid published a news report citing a clause from an Letter of Credit (LC). Respecting the fact that individual buyers may have their own due diligence policies, but neither a LC copy cannot be an official instrument of a sanction against a country, nor is it a jurisdiction of a private entity to make such a sensitive announcement, since Bangladesh and U.S.A. have excellent bilateral relations. Moreover, BGMEA did not receive any information, query or concern from its members, buyers or associates on this matter as yet

During our visit to U.S.A. as part of apparel diplomacy in September last year we met U.S. Government senior officials, buyers and other stakeholders, where they expressed their interest about our RMG industry and its transformation. We briefed them about how the readymade garment industry in Bangladesh has undergone massive safety overhaul over the last few years. Bangladesh is the home of the highest number of green garment factories in the world with 157 factories certified as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), by US Green Building Council (USGBC). Among them 47 are LEED platinum-rated and 96 are LEED gold-rated units. 500 more factories are in the process of certification. They praised the strides made by our industry in the area of sustainability.

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Needless to mention that despite all the challenges caused by the pandemic, we successfully retained the confidence of the global brands on us. As a result of which we have significantly come back to business, though facing some challenges to meet the cost and to manage the supply chain. Our RMG exports to the US market in 2021 has grown by 43.62% compared to 2020, while the growth in EU was 27.74% during the same time. During the fourth quarter of 2021 (that is October-December 2021) export to U.S.A. recorded 75.71% increase compared to October-December of 2020 which testifies the confidence of the buyers on us.

Such kind of reports are really unfortunate when we are turning around from the unprecedented impacts caused by the pandemic and our exports are breaking records in consecutive months. For the first time we exceeded 3.5 billion dollars mark in our exports in a single month in October 2021. Then in December we crossed 4 billion dollars and a month later in January 2022 our exports have exceeded the value of December that is from 4.04 billion dollars, it reached 4.08 billion dollars.

We salute our entrepreneurs for their resilience and efforts to make this happen. I believe the momentum in export growth will continue in the coming months and the year 2022 will end with a significant landmark, the year 2023 will be even better.

As we are pursuing a higher growth vision, our industry is placing increased focus on remodeling business, shifting to a value-added one through innovation, diversification, and technology upgradation, and factories are investing in all these areas. We are committed to continue our efforts in pursuance of retaining Bangladesh apparel sector’s fame as a safe, sustainable and competitive destination of apparel sourcing in the world.