Bangladesh textile and knitwear industries are currently passing through a very critical state. Do you agree, and if so why?
"No, I don't agree that the textile and knitwear industries are passing through a critical stage. Rather the knitwear industry is experiencing a phenomenal growth in USA and growth in other parts is also in line with our expectations. The growth particularly in USA, which was our concern as we were considering it as a new destination, after the post-MFA is 70% which is very encouraging. The job market is also booming with the growth of the knitwear sector. But the woven industry is passing through a critical stage after post-MFA as their growth has reduced radically. Though they are yet to face a decline in terms of quantity or value, but in general this is not good sign. The reason is our country is too much dependent on the RMG, and the burden can not be borne by any sole sector no matter how big it is, as the scenario makes the economy vulnerable. So, we need to diversify our export basket and at the same time we also need to diversify our RMG products. As of today outer wears specifically T-shirt and sweater are the two main export items, we can think also under wears as we have the explicit desire of buyers to source those products from Bangladesh."
Can you draw a comparison between pre and post MFA era and how the knitwear industry has emerged in both the periods?
"BKMEA was always optimistic as far as post-MFA is concern. We always said that knitwear will perform well in the post-MFA, though our remarks were over shadowed by the so called big guns like World Bank and ADB. Interestingly when we were holding our first Knit Exposition in September 2004, we said positively that we would do better, on the same day ADB held a press conference and said that knitwear in particular will be affected. We were astonished, though not afraid by their remarks; but it made the investors and others shaky. Other wise, we could have attracted more investment and our growth rate would have been much higher. I must particularly mention the contribution of the entrepreneurs who actually made it happen and proved the big guns wrong. They not only invested in sewing units, they also invested simultaneously in allied industry: knitting, dyeing, printing etc. that has helped to prepare us for the post-MFA. This backward industry is particularly important to reduce the lead time; it also provided our strong control over the quality. Our backward linkage industry was also very helpful before post-MFA to get the GSP facility of the EU and helped us grow with the facility. Now, as there is no quota we are enjoying the fruit of what we did in the pre-MFA. Today, we are thinking to expand in the US market rapidly because we have the capacity which is also expanding very fast. Since September 2004, we have 316 new factories in the sector which is adding new one every day. We are hopeful to reach US$ 4.00 billion mark this year which will make the sector number one export earning sector of the country by huge margin compared with the woven sector. We have exported to China this year and are very optimistic to expand in Chinese market too. So, the sector is having honey-moon with MFA, irrespective of pre or post situation."
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.