The garment industry has played a pioneering role in the development of industrial sector of Bangladesh. Though it took a rather late start i.e., in 1976 but it soon established its reputation in the world market within a short span of time. Resultantly garment is now one of the main export items of the country. Besides, enriching the country’s economy it has played a very important role in alleviating unemployment. At present there are more than four thousands seven hundred forty garment factories in the country employing more than 20 lack 50 thousands labors. 90 percent are women At present, the country generates about $10.69 billion worth of products each year by exporting garment. Two non-market elements have performed a vital function in confirming the garment industry’s continual success; these elements are (a) quotas under Multi- Fibre Arrangement1 (MFA) in the North American market and (b) special market entry to European markets. The whole procedure is strongly related with the trend of relocation of production, the economy has proved to be resilient.
History of Bangladesh Garments:
The first ready-made garment factories in Bangladesh aimed at the export market were opened in the late 1970s by investors from other Asian countries whose exports had been restrained by quotas imposed by importing nations. By the mid-1980s, the ready-made garment industry had become a strong export earner. Garment exports brought receipts of only US$3 million in FY 1981, but by 1984 exports had risen to US$32 million, and the following year revenue soared to US$116 million. For FY 1985 and FY 1986, ready-made garments were the second biggest foreign exchange earner for Bangladesh after jute.
The surge in Bangladeshi exports eventually caused a reaction among some industrial nations. Canada, the European Economic Community, and the United States expressed concern that inexpensive Bangladeshi garments were flooding their markets. In 1985, after a series of notices as called for by multilateral agreements, the United States–which was the destination of about 25 percent of Bangladesh’s garment exports–began imposing quotas on Bangladeshi garments, one category at a time.
Bangladeshi manufacturers, working with the government, organized with remarkable speed and efficiency to adapt to changing conditions. They policed themselves to stay within quotas, allocating production quotas according to equitable criteria, and began diversifying their production into categories where there were not yet quotas: for example, cotton trousers, knitwear, dresses, and gloves. After a period of adjustment, during which some of the least established firms closed and workers were laid off, the industry began stabilizing, and growth continued at a more moderate pace. Exports in FY 1986 rose another 14 percent, to US$131 million, and prospects were good for continued growth at about that rate.
Data as of September 1988
Major exported items:(2003-2004)
|Item||Export receipts(USD millions)|
The table below lists some key macroeconomic indicators for the period 2004-2006:
|Real GDP growth||5.5%||5.3%||6.0%|
|Deficit(as share of GDP)||3.2%||4.7%||4.6%|
Sectorally, services constitute the largest portion of GDP with 51.7%. Industry accounts for 27.1% and agriculture 21.2%. However, the distribution of the labour force is reversed, with most people still working in agriculture (61%), followed by services (27%) and finally industry (12%). This imbalance between output and employment is indicative of a large amount of “disguised” unemployment and underemployment. Unemployment (including underemployment) is estimated to be about 40%. The poverty rate, as of 2004, is about 45%.
As shown by the above table, merchandise exports have been growing strongly in recent years and this trend is set to continue. While imports also exhibit strong growth, it should be noted that the bulk of imports consists of inputs into the production process, e.g. machinery and equipment, fuel and petroleum products, chemicals, iron and steel, cement, fabric and accessories (for garments production), etc. The breakdown of various exports by sector is given in the table overleaf (Bangladesh Bank, 2005). The figures are for the 2003-2004 fiscal year.
|Gross Domestic Product (GDP )||2005-06||2006-07||22597
|at 1995-96 constant price (billion taka)||2846.73||3029.71||38056
|at 1995-96 constant price (billion taka)||2846.73||3029.71||41103
|Per capita GDP:
at 1995-96 constant price (in taka)
|at current price (in taka)
|Per capita income (in Taka)
|Implicit GDP deflator||146.04||155.95|
|Real GDP growth (%)||6.63||6.43|
Figure : GDP of Garments in Bangladesh
Problems of garments sector:
Now garments sector of Bangladesh is facing a crucial situation. The problems of garments sector are given below:-
01. Global economic crisis:
Now the world economy suffers a great problem. The world leading countries are suffers economic crisis who are the main buyers of our ready made garments. So the garments sectors suffers a lot.
02. High bank rate:
The bank rate of our country is high. So the small factories faces a lot of problem for surviving in competition.
03. Discontinuous of electricity:
The present electricity of the country is not so good. A lot of load shedding hampers the production.
04. lack of government intensive:
The government is not look after properly to the small garments factories. So that they cannot gain any intensive for improve their production.
05. Propaganda by competitive country:
The competitor countries of our garments company make propaganda against our country. So in export it creates problem.
06. High production rate:
for the bank interest rate, workers rate of wages, use of captive power increase the rate of production. It makes problem in export.
07. Political violence:
There is no political stability in Bangladesh. Often here occurs political clash like strike and others activities which hamper the export.
08. The lower rate of dollar:
Now the rate of dollar is decreased for world economic crisis. As a result it creates the problems in earning revenue.
09. Strike by workers:
Very often in 2006 there was occurs a strong violence by the workers. And often in EPZ area workers make strike. And it makes negative image of our garments
Problems of Workers:
1. Insufficient wage:
Most of the workers came from the village, After arrived cities they could get a chance, at the same time bound to work as without money city life impossible, can not continue ever one hour. The garments owners take this change as there is huge number worker available with competitive price. Although they know there are doing more work compare to there salary, but they can not say anything.
2. Distance of factory :
Garments worker walk down 6-7 km to reach the factory, again walk the same way to return home.
3. Lack of security:
They face the danger of insecurity and sexual harassment. They feel helpless in the machine-like environment of the City. They are compelled to seek shelter in the suburban slum area to maintain their lives with such a meagre income.
4. Lack of safety practices:
In Dhaka City most of the garment factories are situated in the residential area, so they have no amenities to tackle emergency situation like accidental fire.
5. Unhealthy working condition:
The passage of stairs is narrow. The length and breadth of doors and windows are too small. Environment is stuffy and dirty. In most cases, due to closed windows, light and air is not sufficient. Many persons use the same toilet, so toilets remain dirty very often and the environment of factory remains stinky most of the time. It poses health & safety hazards .
Trade Union Movement in Garments Sector:
Trade Union movement in garments sector is very weak. Even it is weaker than other sectors. There are 8 country wide registered trade union federations. There are 9 federations registered as division based. Another 5 registered federations are combined with Jute, Textile and leather Sector. Apart from these, there are 6 unregistered federations in this sector. There are 3 alliances in the garment sector. These are: 1. Bangladesh Garments Workers Unity Council. 2. Bangladesh Garments Workers and Employees Unity Council. 3. B.N.C.C. (Bangladesh Coordinating Comittee, affiliated with (ITGLWF).
Aims and Objectives of Trade Union:
a. Ensure fair wages.
b. Establish the Workers Rights and Human Rights.
c. Ensure the equal wages and equal rights for the women
d. Improve the working condition and environment in working
e. Struggle for a democratic, developed and progressive
Functions of Trade union in maintaining interest of workers:
1. Unite the garment workers.
2. Formation of plant level unions.
3. Initiate and Conduct the countrywide movements for the betterment of
4. Support, cooperate and conduct the factory base movements.
5. Awareness building among the garment workers.
6. Training and education for the garment workers.
7. Special training and education for the woman workers.
8. Legal aid for the members and garment workers.
9. Publicize the workers and other materials for the garment workers in local
and easy language.
10. Cooperate to get new jobs for the unemployed and dismissed workers.
11. Awareness building for health and environment and to provide health
12. Organize meetings, processions, demonstrations, seminars and
symposiums for the garment workers.
13. Support and participate in the movements of other sectors, democratic
movements and women freedom movements.
14. Express and show solidarity with international trade union movements,
democratic movements and women movements.
TheRMG sector, which accounts for more than 75 percent of Bangladesh’s export earnings, fell behind the export target of the EPB (Export Promotion Bureau) for the first time in history, notching a negative growth of 6.03 percent in knitwear products and barely edging past with 0.16 percent rise in woven items during the last fiscal year. (Stat: The Daily Star)
The reason behind is that major buyers are cutting order citing many reasons and piling up orders for India, Vietnam and other Asian countries.
The leading garment exporter sees the sale loss to major retailers in the US and the Bangladeshi government’s failure to protect garment industries and investment as two main reasons for the slump in business.
Market watchers meanwhile predict that worse is to come next year when the EU’s 7.5 percent export growth restriction on China goes by December-end.
One experienced exporter said that Bangladesh garment would grow more strongly if the business climate was improved and the fears of RMG buyers dispelled.
“The buyers appreciate the anti-corruption drive, stable political situation and improvement in areas like the port, electricity and customs. But they are also concerned about where does the country go? Where does it end”
Readymade garment (RMG) entrepreneurs has sought soft loan facilities from the government to provide regular wages and bonuses for their workers in the current what they said dull season (reports the Daily Star):
The BGMEA president attributed the dull season for the sector to short winter in Europe and US and shaky consuming practice for high oil prices.