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Business  & Finance News

Monday, January 20, 2003

Compiled by SDNP

Head Lines


Govt to allow FDI in RMG

Star Business Report, The Daily Star

The government is going to allow foreign direct investment in the country's readymade garment (RMG) sector provided an investor sets up at least one backward linkage industry, Industries Minister MK Anwar said yesterday.

"We are going to allow foreign investment in the country's RMG sector so that we can compete in the global market after phasing out of the multi-fibre arrangement from 2005," he said while speaking as chief guest at the concluding session of a seminar.

The two-day seminar on 'A Value Chain Analysis of the RMG Sector in Bangladesh: Beyond MFA' was jointly organised by the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies and Oxfam-GB Bangladesh Programme at the IDB Bhaban in the city.

Speaking at the seminar, Commerce Secretary Suhel Chowdhury said the government would form a high-powered task force involving all concerned to resolve the problems in the RMG sector in view of post-MFA realities.

The government has already received the report of a committee formed in this regard and is considering implementation of its recommendations, he added.

Referring to the Sri Lankan experience of foreign investment, the commerce secretary said allowing FDI in garment and backward linkage would ensure markets abroad as well as supply of raw materials.

Prof Rehman Sobhan, chairman of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, said although the country's garment exporters were experiencing price fall in the international market, retail prices of garment abroad remained unchanged.

With Dr Kazi Shahabuddin, director general of BIDS in the chair, the seminar was also addressed, among others, by Industries Secretary Al Amin Chowdhury, Zaidi Sattar, an economist of the World Bank, Toufic Hasan, director of the Export Promotion Bureau and Nurul Islam, a trade union leader.

Toufic Hasan mentioned that there are very few garment exporters who design for their products and most of the companies do not know about their social obligations.

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Textile technology trade fair from Wednesday

Star Business Report, The Daily Star

A four-day international apparel and textile technology trade show, Garmentech Bangladesh 2003, begins on Wednesday at the Bangladesh-China Friendship Conference Centre at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in the city.

The exposition will be organised by Chennai based Zak Trade Fair and Exhibition Limited in association with Dhaka based Zakaria Enterprises.

A press conference was held to inform this at the National Press Club yesterday.

Zak Trade Fair and Exhibition Limited Managing Director Syed Zakir Ahmed and Zakaria Enterprises General Manager Tipu Sultan were present on the occasion.

According to Syed Zakir Ahmed, around hundred participants from ten countries will exhibit their products in this fair. The countries include Japan, Italy, India, South Korea, Germany, Taiwan, Turkey, France, the USA and China.

Syed Zakir Ahmed said the show would be helpful for technical persons, CEOs, GMs, designers, merchandisers and engineers of different garment industries of the country.

He also said the exposition will be an ideal platform to showcase the latest and best products to a market that is receptive to new technology and to an industry which is modernising to face the challenge posed by post-WTO era.

Many globally leading companies will showcase their products on knitting, sewing, embroidery, laundry, finishing and cutting.

Some companies from fabrics, accessories, chemicals and support services sector like software consultancy, project financing and material-handling equipment will also participate at the exhibition.

The Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) President Yussuf Abdullah Harun will be present as chief guest in the inaugural ceremony, while Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president will be present as guest of honour on the occasion.

The show will remain open from 10 am to 7 pm everyday and anyone can enter the fair by free registration.

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Bangladesh garments await tough challenges

Staff Reporter, The New Nation

Speakers at the concluding day of a two-day seminar yesterday said the Bangladesh's ready-made garment industry would face four major challenges--the phasing out of MFA by January 2005, competition from China, pressures to meet global standards and changing retail markets and the new competitive pressures from global buyers in the globalised world after the phasing out of multi-fibre agreement (MFA).

They also called for paying immediate attention to the RMG industry so that it could survive the competition in a globalised world after the post-MFA regime.

The seminar on "A Value Chain Analysis of the RMG Sector in Bangladesh: Beyond MFA," was jointly organised by Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) and Oxfam-GB Bangladesh Programme in collaboration with the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK at IDB Bhaban, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in the city.

The speakers suggested diversifying apparel products and markets, upgrading products, reducing lead time, holding buyers- sellers meeting, strengthening backward linkages and improving the country's image abroad.

Speaking at the seminar as the chief guest, Industries Minister MK Anwar predicted that the country's export-oriented ready-made garment (RMG) industry would be able to sustain competition in the post-MFA era.

"Our RMG industry would survive in the quota-free post-MFA period as we have a matured industry, skilled workers and a supportive government ready to extend all sorts of cooperation to the industry," he said.

Chaired by Dr Quazi Shahabuddin, Director General of BIDS, the concluding day of the seminar was also addressed, among others, by former Foreign Minister Barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud, Commerce Secretary Suhel Ahmed Chowdhury, eminent economist Prof Rehman Sobhan, former industry secretary Al Amin Chowdhury, World Bank economist Dr Zaidi Sattar and EPB Director Toufique Hasan.

The Industries Minister said the garment industries enjoying a substantial non-quota exports to many countries would devise a plan for the future with cooperation from all.

He said the government was mulling over foreign direct investment (FDI) in backward linkage of garment industry, which were on a firm footing over 25 years.

Industries Secretary Suhel Ahmed Chowdhury said the government would constitute a high-powered task force involving all concerned to resolve the problems of the industry in view of post-MFA realities.

He said the government had already received the report of a committee formed to this end and was considering implementation of its recommendations.

The Commerce Secretary said Bangladesh recently got duty- free market access to Canada with relaxation in source of origin condition and was trying to win the same access to Australia from July.

Norway has already given access to its market, he said, adding such arrangements added zest to the industry.

Referring to the Sri Lankan experience of FDI, he said such a step in textile and backward linkage would ensure markets abroad as well as supply of raw materials.

Prof Rehman Sobhan stressed the need for narrowing the gap between manufacturing costs and retail sales prices in the value chain that ranges from production to delivery to final consumers.

He said although the garment industry of the country was witnessing progressive fall in sale prices, the prices of garment sales to retailers abroad remained the same.

Some shares of the profit should go to the manufacturers, he commented.

Dr Zaidi Sattar called for reform of the trade policy regime, saying duty on yarn and fabric should go.

He said one of Bangladesh's big competitors in post-MFA era would be Sri Lanka-enjoyed duty-free import while a hefty duty was imposed on imports by the Bangladesh industry.

Al Amin Chowdhury opposed the demand for cash incentive to the garments industry, saying: "Spoon-feeding must go. The industry should find its own feet."

He said cash incentive would not help the industry in tough competition in the post-MFA period.

Toufique Hasan called for changes in the garment business where buying houses regulate the trade.

He stressed the need for marketing by the industry itself, temporary arrangement for raw materials before the phasing out of MFA and bilateral trade agreements with friendly nations.

The owners and workers of garment industries highlighted their problems and called for cooperation of all for resolving those.

At the concluding day of the seminar, a panel of members discussed quite a number of issues, relating to the impending problem, including policy, trade rules, labour standards, market trends, value addition, infrastructures and the international scenario.

The panelists included Dr Ashraf U Chowdhury of Dhaka University, Dr Ananya Raihan of Centre for Policy Dialogue, Dr Kaneez Siddiqui of North South University and Ms Shirin Akter of Karmajibi Nari in the first group; Former Foreign Minister Barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud, Textile Secretary Tanveer Hussain and Chairman of Opex Group Anisur Rahman Sinha in the second group; President of Trade Union Centre Nurul Islam, Chairman of Azim Group Fazlul Azim, Managing Director of New Age Garments ASM Quasem and Executive Director of Nari Uddog Kendra Masuda Khatun Shefali in the third group; Commerce Secretary Suhel Ahmed Chowdhury, former Industries Secretary Al Amin Chowdhury, Senior Economist of World Bank Dr Zaidi Sattar and EPB Director Toufique Hasan in the last group.

The floor also featured many eminent thinkers, activists, and other concerned, including the members of Oxfam-led trade campaign group.

Participants included EC Second Secretary Ms Anne Marchal, Maggie Burns of Oxfam International, Prof Anu Muhammad of Jahangirnagar University, among others.

On the first day of the seminar on Saturday, three papers were presented by Dr Khaled Nadvi, Fellow the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) of University of Sussex at Brighton, Dr Naila Kabir, also from the IDS, and Dr Salma Chaudhuri Zohir of BIDS along with Ms Simeen Mahmud, Senior Research Fellow of BIDS.

Dr Nadvi said in his paper said in the globalised world Bangladesh garment industry would face four major challenges-the phasing out of MFA by January 2005, competition from China, pressures to meet global standards and changing retail markets and the new competitive pressures from global buyers.

Dr Salma Chaudhuri Zohir in her research said the industry can survive the competition of globalisation by diversifying products and markets, upgrading products, reducing lead time, holding buyers- sellers meeting, strengthening backward linkages and improving the country's image abroad.

Dr Naila Kabeer said garment workers in Bangladesh were better- off than their counterparts in other sectors and the workers, most of them girls, had broken the myth that males were the key breadwinners in Bangladesh.

On both the days, the seminar saw lively open discussion on a range of issues facing the garment industry of the country.

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Garmentech Bangladesh 2003 begins Wednesday

Staff Reporter, The New Nation

A four-day international apparel and textile technology trade show, dubbed "Garmentech Bangladesh 2003" begins at Bangladesh China Friendship Conference Centre in the city from Wednesday.

The Dhaka based Zakaria Enterprises Limited of Bangladesh in cooperation with Chennai based ZAK Trade Fairs and Exhibitions Pvt Ltd is organising the show exhibiting a variety of latest knitting machines and garment accessories.

Apart from host Bangladesh, participants from Japan, Italy, India, Korea, Germany, Taiwan, Turkey, France, USA and China are participating the show, the second of its kind in Bangladesh.

This was announced at a press conference by Managing Director of ZAK Trade Fairs and Exhibitions Pvt Ltd Syed Zakir Ahmed at the National Press Club in the city yesterday.

The press conference was also addressed by General Manager of Zakaria Enterprises Limited Tipu Sultan Bhuiyan and General Manager of Zuki Bangladesh Ltd Shamsul Alam.

Syed Zakir Ahmed said many globally leading knitting machinery brands will be showcasing their latest range of knitting machines which is the highlight of the event. World class garment finishing equipment, fusing machines, tags, labels, laundry machines, textile and apparel testing machines, CAD and ERP software will also be displayed at the show.

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