The readymade garments (RMG) industry of Bangladesh is bursting with self-confidence, reports Jozef de Coster from capital Dhaka.

Nobody could have predicted that the RMG (readymade garments) industry of Bangladesh, which started very small in the 1980s (exports didn't exceed $3.5 million in 1981), would in less than four decades become a world player with 4.2 million workers and an export value in the last fiscal year of $30.61 billion. And, what about the industry's future? Bangladesh does not lack fortunetellers. During the recent Fabric & Yarn Expo in Dhaka (November 15-18, 2018), many of them predicted without hesitation that by 2021, Bangladesh's RMG exports will reach the official target of $50 billion. Any worries about unexpected slowdowns, political unrest, technological disruptions, unimaginable Black Swans? Hardly. In the eyes of Bangladesh's sector observers, the RMG industry-the second in the world in terms of production and exports-is an unstoppable Armoured Division.

Some Number Ones

Even competing with two concurrent fairs-which are offering machinery, dyes and chemicals-the annual Bangladesh International Fabric & Yarn Expo in Dhaka is a trade fair of modest size. However, a number of domestic and foreign suppliers to Bangladesh's textiles and RMG industry, see the expo as a convenient occasion to show their latest products and services.

Also, at the latest edition of the expo, some regional 'Number Ones' showed up.

The Well Group, with production facilities in Chittagong, boasts being the biggest manufacturer of industrial sewing and embroidery thread in Southeast Asia. Today, the Well Group employs 18,000 people in the textiles and garment sector. Among its own garment customers are C&A, H&M, Walmart and Target.

The Shanghai Stock listed stitch machinery manufacturer Jack, which boasts being Number One in China, is also the top supplier in Bangladesh. Jack is producing some 85,000 stitching machines per month in China. More than 10,000 machines per year are destined for Bangladesh. Jack was promoting 'the Worlds's First Speaking Machine' at the Expo. The year 2018 was a good one for Jack Bangladesh Ltd., but 2019 may be more difficult. The management is expecting the closure of a number of small garment factories, due to the increase of the Bangladesh minimum salary.

Running Tiger (Bangladesh), a sister company of Chinese machinery manufacturer Jingsu Jinlong Technology Co Ltd, boasts being the Number One in the Bangladesh market of computerised flat-knitting machines. The service department of the company employs 28 engineers, most of them from Bangladesh and a few from China. Whatever technical problem may arise, without delay an engineer is sent to the customer to solve it and stay standby.

A Potential Game-changer

Most Bangladeshi RMG manufacturers who during the Fabric & Yarn Expo attended the seminar organised by Foursource, were surprised to learn that a new marketing tool exists that can give them visibility to the buyers of casual, formal, active and workwear, and that this tool is gratis for manufacturers (except if they require special services).