Rapidly growing global market of technical textile and Personal protective equipment (PPE) has opened up a new window of opportunity before the local apparel makers, according to a new study report.
The global technical textile market is projected to grow from $179.2bn in 2020 to $224.4bn by 2025 at an average annual growth rate of 4.2 percent, while the global PPE market is projected to pass $93bn by the end of 2025.
The study, titled 'Feasibility study on scaling up the production of Technical Textile (TT) including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Bangladesh', was conducted by German-based Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (giz).
It was released on Tuesday by with the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
"Most apparel manufacturers in Bangladesh tend to be medium-sized companies. Even large apparel groups are not known by international procurement agencies for TT or PPE products,” said the report
The sourcing supply channel for medical PPE products is far more complex than that of apparel. Comprehensive details regarding performance, testing and certification requirements for the EU and the US are provided, it added.
According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), in the last fiscal year 2020-21, Bangladesh exported PPEs and masks worth $618 million to the world market, which is 23 percent more than the previous year.
However, entrepreneurs in the garment industry say that Bangladesh is still unable to export even 0.5 percent of the demand in the world market.
But the share of Bangladesh in the world market of readymade garments is more than 6 percent.
They study mentioned five main reasons behind the Bangladesh’s still being at the early stage.
Those include lack of awareness of market requirements, inadequate technical expertise, difficulty in sourcing high-performance raw materials, compliance and certification requirements and need for capital investment. Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said 155 of its members export masks and PPEs. Masks have been exported to 19 countries and PPEs to six countries.
The study cited the complexity of raw material sourcing and testing or certification standards as one of the reasons for Bangladesh's lagging in technical textile exports.
Bangladesh has to adopt a complete strategy for first stage development, based on a limited number of products by a limited number of well-established technical apparel manufacturers in the greater Dhaka area who will act as a role model TT or PPE cluster.
“Everything starts on a small scale and once a solid foundation is built, the sub-sector can rely on increased demand to bolster more product diversification at a second stage,” the study report said.
In the first stage, factories will upgrade technology and implement lean manufacturing practices. The relevant departments will ensure suitable raw material procurement and quality production. Other departments will learn all the requirements for meeting testing and certification standards.
Once Bangladesh builds its reputation, confidence and reliability in this new product sector, it can gradually introduce more technology and advance to more diversified and sophisticated products offering greater profit margins, the report observed.
"Even starting with a limited number of products, if they are done well, it will open the door to a host of other niche categories and products. Encouraged by the success of the early manufacturers, more companies will take the leap and the sub-sector will grow.
Europe is the current leader in imports of medical textiles but demand from North America is growing and expected to grow further. The world of technical textiles and their end-use products is endless.
Bangladesh will also benefit from the EU's Everything but Arms (EBA) scheme which allows for duty-free imports.
"Once manufacturers have established reliable material supply, upgrade their operations and learn the necessary testing and certifications procedures, there are huge opportunities in product diversifications," the report said.