Everyone who is anyone in the Bangladesh apparel manufacturing industry, industry is aware of the country’s status as the second biggest clothing manufacturer in this world. By 2020 the country’s apparel industry will overtake China as the biggest exporter of clothing to the European Union and the industry is slated to be a $50BN industry by 2021.
But that is stale information. A lot of people are under the assumption that Bangladesh clothing manufacturers tend to be very traditional and backwards. But the reality could not be further from the truth. Here are little known facts that will make you second guess how far the industry has come since the days of Rana Plaza.
Prisoners Making Clothes
Yup, you heard that right! Bangladesh has a ready made clothing manufacturing unit inside a prison. In the last week of December 2018, the Home Minister of the Government of Bangladesh inaugurated this establishment in a bid to implement methods of skill development for prisoners in Bangladesh. The BKMEA (Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association) trained around 400 prisoners as employees of this factory. The prisoners can either send the earnings they receive to their families or keep it aside for after they get released.
Central Welfare Fund
Specially announced by the Honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, this fund enables employees and the families of employees of apparel manufacturing factories in Bangladesh to be covered by upto 300,000 BDT, in case of grave injuries or death at the workplace.
The labor ministry, in conjunction with BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) and BKMEA launched this fund. The Prime Minister actually handed over compensation cheques to the families of 234 deceased or crippled apparel manufacturing workers and even went on to urge the two Bangladesh apparel industry associations to make a database of all apparel workers, for a smoother and better lending process.
Duty & Quote Free Access to Russia
After much talks with their Russian counterparts, Bangladesh has been assured that Russia will be opening up their markets for Bangladesh clothing manufacturers to export apparel quota and duty free.=
Because of a WTO agreement, Bangladesh has actually been exporting 71 kinds of products to Russia. Apparel however, was not on the list. But very soon, Bangladesh made apparel is slated to be a much imported product in Russia.
540 Trade Unions
Not only is there a central welfare fund, but there are also 540 registered trade unions in Bangladesh. The present government has gone a long way to make the process of registering trade unions easier, and it’s part of a bigger push to make the Bangladesh apparel industry more recognized.
In November the Bangladesh government amended it’s labor laws and the export processing zone laws to comply with EU recommendations. But even before that, SOPs were set by the government to smoothen trade union registration and tackle unfair labor practices. This was all executed with the help of the ILO, right after they finished a comprehensive labor inspection training program in June.
To add to everything being done in this space, the BGMEA, in partnership with BRAC, started a project to digitally map out all apparel manufacturing factories in Bangladesh. The database itself will contain both location information and data on the respective factories.
Country with the Most Transparent Apparel Industry
Bangladesh is actually the country with the most transparent apparel manufacturing industry, when it comes to workplace safety. The inspection reports on each factory is publicly available, the are 67 LEED certified factories with 222 more in process, the Accord and the Alliance have stellar things to say, and 2017 has been by far the year of optimum progress to make the industry more ethical.
Some of Bangladesh’s closest competitors in the apparel and clothing manufacturing industry are still trailing behind in terms of compliance and ethics. Pakistan and Myanmar to name two of the closest competitors. The country has even gone to great lengths to ensure that factories set high bars for lessening the environmental impact of their production.
For skills development and learning in this sector, numerous projects have been completed and are either in progress or will start very soon. Partnership for Cleaner Textiles (PaCT) and Towards Resource Efficiency & Environmental Sustainability (TREES) are two projects the Bangladesh government is highly engaged in. At this rate, there is no doubt that the goal to hit $50BN in apparel exports will be a seamless process.
So now that you’ve had a chance to absorb some information about the real Bangladesh apparel manufacturing industry, feel free to drop us a line if you want to learn more. If you want to see how we can safely source apparel for you and reduce your costs, send us a price quote request and someone from the team will be in touch shortly.