June 19, 2024, 4:16 pm

Md Mohiuddin Rubel

2023-01-01 11:06:12 BdST

2022: The year of turnaround

2022 was the year of a comeback and rebuild of the economy. Despite all the challenges created by the century’s biggest disaster, Covid-19, we proved our resilience and turned around.

We are in a new challenge as the advanced economies are heading towards recession, while our economy has not fully recovered from the crisis of the pandemic yet.

Due to the current geopolitical crisis, on the one hand, the prices of commodities, including fuel and food, are rising; on the other hand, the global inflation rate hits a record of 8.8 per cent in 2022 which was 4.7 per cent in 2021. As a result, the demand for products and purchasing power in the international market is declining.  All these are affecting the retail sales market as well as disrupting the global supply chain.

Though the difficulties are there but at the same time opportunities are boundless. The ready-made garment (RMG) export is continuously thriving which is a sign of hope.

In the last fiscal year 2021-22, our RMG export was $42.61 billion and it was a landmark in the history of RMG manufacturing as we exceeded the $40 billion mark in 40 years of journey. Apart from the major markets - EU and USA, our export share in non-traditional markets has become double from 6.87 per cent in FY2008-09 to 14.96 per cent in FY2021-22. Among the major non-traditional markets, Japan, India and South Korea’s growth were significant. 

As per the “World Trade Statistical Review” by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2021, Bangladesh has regained its ranking as the second largest apparel exporter in the world with a 6.37 per cent share of the global market. Bangladesh has already become the top denim-sourcing country for the USA and EU. Now we are in close competition with the largest apparel exporter, China.  

2022 will also remain a distinct year for us as we have exceeded $50 billion in exports. The year will be marked as a year of thriving infrastructure in Bangladesh as the Padma Bridge opened the horizon of new opportunities and a few other mega projects are awaiting completion. This is really a significant accomplishment for us.  

A number of accomplishments have been added to our success list of the RMG industry in 2022.  One of the major priorities that we have been focusing on is “Apparel Diplomacy.”

In 2022, we have realigned our vision with ESG priorities and the Sustainable Development Goal 2030.  We have the highest number of LEED green RMG factories certified by USGBC. Currently, the number of LEED Green factories is 183, of which 60 are platinum.

We are not only confined to sustainability but the BGMEA has established the “Centre for Innovation, Efficiency and OSH” at its premises. Through this centre, we will focus on newer avenues of enhancing our sustainability vision and competitiveness through efficiency improvement and cost optimisation.  

One of the biggest successes in 2022 was “Made in Bangladesh Week.”

Going forward, not only in 2023 but also in the next decade, we have to keep and continue all of these transformations. Achieving excellence in products, fibre, and market diversification and value addition are the key opportunities for this sector.

We need to develop our capacity in the backward and forward linkage industry.  At the same time, we need to focus on innovation, technological upgradation, design and skill development and overall business capabilities.

We need to accelerate our initiatives towards green transformation and make it accessible for all the tiers of factories, particularly small and medium ones. The virtual marketplace can also be a gateway for SMEs to go global.

The writer is a director of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA)

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