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Apparel manufacturers elect their new leadership on Thursday
February 21, 2001
Dhaka-- (UNB) – Garment manufacturers elect a new leadership of RMG industry Thursday vesting in it an onerous responsibility of facing a tough challenge, any default in which may land the highest export-earning sector in a serious setback.
The challenge is to retain at least the existing share of Bangladesh in the US market, the single-largest buyer of the country’s apparels. Of the total RMG export of USD 4.3 billion in 1999-2000, over 43 per cent accounted for USA market.
The threat is shifting of US export orders from Bangladesh following the passage of US Trade and Development Act (TDA) 2000 that allows duty-and quota-free access of apparel products from Caribbean and sub-Saharan African countries.
Some 2113 voters will elect the 27-member executive committee of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) from among four contesting panels and an independent candidate.
In the election projection meetings, all the panel leaders expressed grave concern about the adverse situation of the industry ahead.
Any lapses on the part of the new leadership will badly affect 76 per cent of the country’s total export earnings and livelihood of around one crore people.
Besides harming 20 lakh employees, other beneficiaries of the potential industry, like young entrepreneurs, will be directly hit by any such adversities, garment owners said.
They said it can also cause a massive currency flight from the country to the Caribbean and sub-Saharan African countries as entrepreneurs would likely to relocate their factories to those areas to avail the privilege of TDA 2000.
Meanwhile, BGMEA sent a delegation headed by the president of the outgoing committee along with the Prime Minister’s entourage to USA for securing the same facility.
The delegation met several influential Congressmen and Senators of USA, under secretaries, high officials of USTR and staff officers to Congressmen and Senators, leaders of AFL-CIO and several lobbyist firms.
Following the visit, BGMEA evaluated that any amendment to the TDA 2000 would yield nothing for Bangladesh as the country is already exporting above USD 2.2 billion to USA, which almost exceeds SSA maximum growth up to the year 2007.
Similarly, the bill for the Caribbean nations under the TDA would not be economically viable for Bangladesh to bring in US-made fabric, manufacture apparels and re-export to USA.
Against this tricky backdrop, the outgoing committee of the BGMEA planned to place a new separate bill for Bangladesh to get duty-and quota-free market access to USA.
Sources said BGMEA already had got support from three Congressmen, in writing, who are willing to place the new bill in the next parliament.
Returning from USA, BGMEA invited 7 lobbyist firms for submitting proposals to BGMEA. The proposals remained under scrutiny to finalise one firm, they said.
BGMEA constituted a committee to suggest modalities for raising funds, its expenditure and other initiatives for achieving duty-and quota-free access through establishing Bangladesh Caucus in the US Congress.
Whoever takes the responsibility of the new committee, entrepreneurs said, the planned new bill should be followed up to save the industry.