RMG factories to remain open during lockdown

Staff Correspondent

12 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Garments and textile factories will remain open during the full lockdown, which is likely to be enforced from April 14.

Top leaders of two apparel bodies confirmed that the government will allow full operations of the apparel and allied factories during the upcoming lockdown.

The decision was taken on Sunday at a meeting between apparel sector leaders and Cabinet Secretary, sources said.

Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, former BGMEA Presidents Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, MP and Salam Murshedi, MP, BKMEA President Selim Osman MP, BTMA President Mohammad Ali Khokon and BGMEA President-elect Faruque Hasan took part in the meeting.

“This is a great success and the industry survived a major crisis. The decision has been taken to keep all the export-oriented industries open during the lockdown,” Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president-elect Faruque Hassan said.

He also urged all the apparel makers to follow all the health and safety protocols very strictly without failure.

On 11 April, four apparel trade bodies came to a press conference at a city hotel and demanded to keep garments and textile factories open during the lockdown.

The organisations are-Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) and Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB).

At the programme, association leaders urged the government to keep garment and textile industries out of the purview of the lockdown.  

They said that failure to continue production and ship goods in time will cause them huge losses, and the work orders may also get shifted from Bangladesh to other countries.

BGMEA acting president Mohammad Abdus Salam said the local garment suppliers have been struggling to recover the losses they incurred during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We do not know when the COVID-19 pandemic will be over or how long will it prolong. We have to face the present situation based on our experiences,” said Abdus Salam.

Mentioning the impact of the pandemic, he said that many factories have incurred losses in the face of buyers and brands failing to pay the purchase order, while many did not get their shipped or stocked goods. This has caused businesses to walk the path of forced loans to meet their LC obligation.

“Based on the success in containing COVID infection last year, I think a full-fledged implementation of health safety guidelines and monitoring should be in place for the sake of all workers and the industry,” added the BGMEA acting president.

In a written statement, Abdus Salam also presented a summary of impacts that were experienced in the RMG sectors during the second wave of coronavirus pandemic.

According to the statement, the garments sector has reported continuous price drops of 4.5 per cent to 5 per cent since September last year.

Besides, the sector has reported export orders loss worth $6 billion in 2019-20 FY, while in the first nine months of the current fiscal year, the loss was 9.5 per cent compared to 2018-19 FY.

Due to lockdown measures since February 2020, the retail business of ready-made garments has sustained a negative trend, as Europe reported a 28 per cent downfall and the US reported it to be 16 per cent.

BKMEA president Salim Osman said if factories remain shut during the lockdown, the country’s RMG sector will have to incur huge losses and may lose its competitiveness in the global market.

He also expressed hope that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will take the right decision for the industry as she took earlier.

BTMA President Mohammad Ali Khokon said textiles mills currently have export orders worth $2 billion and $4 billion more is in the pipeline.

If the textile industries face closure during the lockdown, this sector approximately would incur a loss of around Tk 54,000 crore, said BTMA President.