Bangladesh RMG Industry – Journey towards Excellence

Over the last decades, Bangladesh’s RMG industry has achieved tremendous growth and we have earned the medal of second largest apparel exporter in the world. Staring with only 10,000 dollars of export in 1978, Bangladesh exported $34 Billion worth of RMG in FY 2018-19, which was indeed a great achievement.

The 40 years journey of manufacturing and excellence has never been easy. From child labor elimination in 1995 till today, we are making many positive changes in the area of compliance, safety and well-being of our workers. Over the past 7 years we made massive efforts in transforming the industry in terms of safety remediation of factories, and creating a culture of safety at workplace. This was done by local and international experts in the area of fire, electrical and structural safety, was supported by government, global brands and development partners including ILO.  Through the committed efforts and millions of dollars of investment in past few years, Bangladesh is now considered to be one of the safest apparel manufacturing countries worldwide.

A recent survey report unveiled by Hong Kong-based supply chain compliance solutions provider, QIMA, ranked Bangladesh second in ‘Ethical Manufacturing’ with a score of 7.7 only behind Taiwan which scored 8.0. Vietnam came in third, followed by Thailand, Pakistan, Turkey, China, India and Brazil. The ethical auditing report covered a vast horizon of compliance and ethical manufacturing i.e. Hygiene, health and safety, Waste management, Child and young labor, Labor practices, including forced labor, worker representation, disciplinary practices and discrimination, Working hours and wages etc. By comparing the ethical auditing practices of major manufacturing countries, QIMA noted that Bangladesh stood out for the good practices of its local suppliers in the international supply chain. This recognition from a globally acclaimed organization carries pride, prestige and joy for Bangladesh.

The Bangladesh Apparel Industry is proving its competence as a strategic industry of Bangladesh through its continuous stride towards social and environmental sustainability. Bangladesh is the home to the most LEED green factories in the world. We have now 143 LEED green factories of which 40 are platinum rated and you will be amazed to know that 39 of the global top 100 LEED green factories are in Bangladesh. It is also noteworthy to mention, that, around 500 factories are in the pipeline to get their certification. These are state of the art factories, quipped to safe energy and natural resources, having facilities like rainwater harvesting and day light saving, and having healthy and hygienic atmosphere. BGMEA has been honored with the “2021 USGBC Leadership Award” for its exemplary leadership in promoting environmental sustainability and green industrialization in the RMG industry. BGMEA is the only association in the world to receive such award and to be recognized as the pioneer in global green industries.  With an ambition to reduce GHG emission by 30% till 2030, BGMEA has joined UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action. We have pledged with the Green Button which is an initiative by the Government of Germany. So Bangladesh is showing its maximum commitment when it comes to sustainability.

The McKinsey&Co. has been monitoring the textile and clothing trade around the world, and has been particularly featuring the progress and prospects of Bangladesh’s apparel over the past decade. In a recent report titled “What’s next for Bangladesh’s Garment Industry, after a decade of growth?”, McKinsey & Company portrays the unprecedented shifting that Bangladesh’s RMG industry has experienced over the last decade in terms of sustainability, workers empowerment, well-being, and areas of excellence in business.

Few highlighted points from the report is:

  • “Today, Bangladesh’s RMG sector is a frontrunner in transparency regarding factory safety and value-chain responsibility, thanks to initiatives launched in the aftermath of the disasters-including the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, and the RMG Sustainability Council.”
  • “Over the past decade, Bangladesh’s RMG sector has made impressive progress in tackling the challenges of growth—particularly in diversifying customers and products, improving supplier and workforce performance, and strengthening compliance and sustainability.”
  • “Bangladesh’s advanced manufacturers are characterized by a high degree of entrepreneurship and strategic management; these firms have made investments in productivity improvement, digitization, automation, and sustainability, and they operate according to international best practices.”
  • “More than 1,500 Bangladeshi companies are certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard, the second highest number in any country in the world.”

Despite many difficulties faced by the RMG sector over the past years, it has successfully carved a niche in world market and kept continuing to show robust performance. It is the resilience of our sector which has enabled us to achieve the second highest RMG exporter’s medal in the world and make “Made in Bangladesh with pride” a worldwide famous logo. It is not the race with other manufacturing that we are concerned about, rather we are putting emphasis on value addition into our export basket. We want to set up our own standard with regards to excellence in product diversification and value addition. While we have made a significant progress in the social and environmental sustainability, the priority would be to keep this momentum, as well as to improve the industry standards over time.

Click here for the QIMA report ‘QIMA_Report

Click here for the McKinsey report What’s next for Bangladesh’s Garment Industry, after a decade of growth?