• Monday, Aug 08, 2022
  • Last Update : 04:24 pm

BGMEA Election: Sammilita Parishad to prioritise diversification, innovation for steering pandemic recovery

  • Published at 11:44 pm March 16th, 2021
The new BGMEA headquarters in Uttara <strong>Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune</strong>
The new BGMEA headquarters in Uttara Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

The panel will also work closely with the government and the EU to retain duty-free market access in the region till 2031

The Sammilita Parishad will prioritise product and market diversification and innovation by adopting the latest technology to help the apparel sector recover from Covid-19, panel leader Faruque Hassan said Tuesday.

He made the pledges while unveiling the election manifesto of the panel for the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Election 2021-23, to be held on April 4.

"If the BGMEA members vote for us to lead the sector, we will focus on product and market diversification to help the sector recover from the Covid-19 pandemic as export earnings have fallen sharply due to demand shocks," said Hassan.  

Export earnings from the clothing sector came down to $27 billion in the 2019-20 fiscal year, which was $34 billion in FY2018-19.

To diversify products, the leaders of the panel will work on adopting the latest technology and research and innovation, the panel leader added.

The panel will also work closely with the government and the EU to retain duty-free market access in the region till 2031 after the LDC graduation.

The apparel leader will focus on apparel diplomacy to this end, he said.

"I have close relationships with foreign diplomats and government officials and ambassadors abroad, who are also close friends of mine. I will use these relationships as a tool to improve business connectivity,” said Hassan.

For an effective negotiation with the global trade partners and buyers, the exporters’ platform will also form a special task force with the government to deal with challenges.  It also promised to appoint lobbyists in the US to gain duty-free market access for Bangladeshi apparel products.

If elected, the Sammilita Parishad will appeal to the government to increase cash incentives for the sector from 4 per cent to 5 per cent against exports in non-traditional markets for diversification.

Regaining the market share lost due to the pandemic would be a great challenge for the sector, which needs to be addressed, Hassan said.

Bangladesh’s share in the global export market is below 7 per cent, but there are opportunities to grow further.

“To this end, we have to focus on branding Bangladesh and improving the image of the sector,” said Hassan, also managing director of Giant Group.

In the last 30 years, the dominance of cotton products in the fashion industry declined sharply and about 70 per cent of the market is occupied by manmade fibre.

“We have only 25 per cent products made of cotton. So, there is a huge opportunity to grow, but this needs technological upgradation and skills, where we will focus,” said the business leader.

In coping with changing trends and to be prepared for the fourth industrial revolution, the leader will focus on training and skills development.

On the other hand, the platform will also work to introduce cash incentives for e-commerce-based entrepreneurs as the online marketplace is becoming more prominent, especially during the pandemic, said Hassan.

The panel will also focus on sustainable and recycled product development as the demand for these items is on the rise.   

The panel also assured its members to work to remove trade barriers by working with government agencies and to bring amendments to customs and tax-related policies.     

Former BGMEA president and chief election coordinator of Sammilita Parishad Abdus Salam Murshedy urged the apparel makers to vote the panel lead by Hassan for the recovery of the sector from Covid-19.

We have set the panel with a combination of experienced and talented business people, while there is a representation of women and young, talented second-generation business people with knowledge, said Murshedy.    

Former BGMEA presidents Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin and Md Siddiqur Rahman also spoke at the event.    

Two panels -- the Sammilita Parishad and Forum -- will contest the poll for the 2021-23 period to lead the garment sector for two years.

Faruque Hassan, a former senior vice-president of the BGMEA, will lead the Sammilita Parishad, while ABM Shamsuddin, a former vice-president of the trade body, will lead Forum.