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The Bangladesh garment industry faces a lot of challenges. At one time cheap labor force was one of the main factors behind the growth of the garment industry in Bangladesh. But now it’s no longer possible to depend on cheap and unskilled labor.  Entrepreneurs have to invest in developing a skilled work force.

Also garment manufacturing used to be given to sub-contractors. But it is no longer possible to manufacture garments under the sub-contracting system as international retailers are wary of placing orders under this arrangement. Sub-contractors have a reputation for running non compliant factories and exploiting the cheap labor force in contrast to entrepreneurs who invest in ensuring the safety of workers.

Determining and giving minimum wages by considering the cost of living is the main challenge for the sector. Although the minimum wage for garment workers was fixed last year, it is still below the standard of living.

Many garment owners have yet to pay employees their arrears. Owners in turn say that violent trade unionists in collusion with hired thugs disrupt functioning. Owners who want to relocate their factories want the government to provide infrastructural support. They also say the government should do a census on the garment sector.

Pakistan's textile exports might fall during the current fiscal year. The reason is global buyers, fearing that the country’s power and gas shortages might delay their supplies, have placed low orders for Christmas and New Year.

And these shortages actually have delayed shipments from Pakistan to the west. WEestern buyers prefer Bangladesh and other Asian countries. They place orders with Pakistan exporters for textile items on a monthly basis, instead of six months or yearly, as they used to do in the past. Christmas and New Year are key sales seasons for them and they cannot afford to miss such mega festivals merely because of manufacturers’ faults.

Timely shipments to world markets are a problem for exporters in Pakistan as they are unable to dispatch orders ahead of the export deadline. If exporters produce late shipments, they have to bear the airfreight charges to meet the deadline, which is expensive.

The political turmoil in the country is another reason for the fall in total textile exports in the current fiscal year. Western buyers are uncertain whether they would be receiving shipments on time. They are reluctant to place orders with Pakistani textile exporters for such big occasions in Europe and the US fearing low industrial output in the wake of the country’s power and gas crises.

Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA)’s Chief Co-Ordinator Ijaz Khokhar has said that a nine percent growth in readymade garments exports achieved by the Pakistan’s export industry is a normal trend. He demanded that there is an acute need of government efforts to boost exports, which are currently ‘invisible’. Despite the country receiving GSP Plus status from the European Union, there has been no tremendous improvement in the export performance of the country.

There is overwhelming reliance on cotton/textile exports in the country's total exports. Cotton manufacturers according to the Economic Survey 2013-14 accounted for 53 per cent of total exports and registered a growth of 6.5 per cent - approximately the same as the year before; the highest growth was in bed wear (20.4 per cent), knitwear (10.7 percent) and readymade garments 7.5 per cent. All other subgroups registered growth with the exception of cotton yarn (negative 8.2 per cent), towels (negative 3.2 per cent) and art, silk and synthetic textiles attributed to unfavourable prices in the international market (due to an ongoing global recession) as well as increased domestic demand. Raw cotton exports registered a whopping 41 per cent increase due mainly to favourable prices overseas.

Identifying the problems faced by the export industry such as poor crops, delays in introduction of quality seeds and regulatory approvals of Bt cotton, widespread energy shortage, numerous local taxes and levies, high cost of finance and restricted trade regimes adopted by importing countries, the federal Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar in his budget speech announced a range of incentives for the sector. Industry body feels that the Finance Minister, however, compromised the growth rate with his focus on reducing the budget deficit.

Bangladesh is going to start negotiations with Turkey for signing a bilateral free-trade agreement soon. The imposition of 17 per cent additional duty by Turkey on apparel items is seriously affecting exports from Bangladesh.

Apparel products account for over 75 per cent of Bangladesh’s total exports to Turkey. The signing of the proposed pact may lead to abolition of the duty on Bangladesh’s exports. In the fiscal year 2013-’14, Bangladesh exported goods worth around $856 million to Turkey while its imports from Turkey cost around $200 million. 

Turkey in July 2012 levied 17 per cent additional duty on apparel from least developed countries including Bangladesh. Till then exports from these countries enjoyed zero-duty facilities in the Turkish market.

As an impact of paying the additional duty, Bangladesh’s apparel exports to Turkey came down to $355.93 million in 2011-12 from $518.32 million in 2010-11. That marked a steep fall from the 69.24 per cent growth posted in 2010-11 over apparel product shipments worth $306.27 million in 2009-10.

Bangladesh’s major exports to Turkey include apparels and clothing accessories, textile yarn and related products. Imports include lime, cement, products of chemical and allied industries, cotton yarn and cotton fabrics, iron and steel.



Buoyed by improvements in economic growth and consumer spending, US apparel imports in the first six months of 2014 were 2.3 per cent higher than the same period the year before. In value terms, apparel imports climbed 2.96 per cent. Retailers have stocked up in anticipation of a busy spring and summer.

China saw a 2.2 per cent rise in the volume of its shipments to the US during the first half of the year. Massive double-digit gains continue to be seen by Vietnam whose share of the US market edged up from 10.1 per cent in the first half 2013 to 11 per cent  in the same period of 2014. The country is also ranked as the fastest-growing apparel supplier to the US during the year so far, booking a hike of 12.9 percent year-on-year.

Vietnam has been gaining as both producers and buyers diversify their supply chains by moving some manufacturing from China. The country is also being buoyed by the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade treaty with countries including Canada and the US, which would potentially allow imports of Vietnamese products into these markets with significant tariff advantages and flexible rules of origin.

Bangladesh is the US’ third largest apparel supplier. When it comes to imports from the US other large suppliers, gains were posted during the first half of the year by India (up 8.8 per cent), Mexico (up 1.1 per cent) and Pakistan (up 3.5 per cent).

Interfiliere Shanghai and Shanghai Mode Lingerie, the leading intimates and swimwear trade shows in Asia over the last decade are back again in October. This will be their 10th anniversary. These celebrations will also pay tribute to exhibitors and visitors who’ve contributed towards the success of these shows since their first session in October 2005.

In partnership with 'Nuits de satin', Shanghai Mode Lingerie will stage an exceptional display in the Central hall, showcasing outstanding heritage pieces from the last centuries. These pieces will depict the history of lingerie, and describe in details the amazing fabrics used, in all their variety, richness and creativity.

As a part of the 10th anniversary edition, Eurovet is doing an in-depth study of 13 major Asian markets including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia and Thailand in order to provide exclusive information on Asian market and production today. In addition to this, panel discussions will be held in six cities and capitals; Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Seoul, Tokyo and Taipei to further understand consumer behavior and retail strategy.

A first glimpse on Korea and Taiwan together with the results of consumer round tables in Shanghai, Chengdu and Beijing were disclosed during a conference at Mode City Paris on July 7. For the 10th anniversary, the fashion show theme will offer ‘La Lingerie Circus’, a colorful, modern, fashionable and chic showcase. Special dedicated forum for Swimwear is a totally new initiative at Interfiliere Shanghai devoted to innovation and performance in the buoyant and growing sector of Body fashion.

Messe Frankfurt, the world renowned trade fair organizers with a score of having organized over 100 fairs in more than 30 countries, is all set to launch the Istanbul edition of Texworld called Texworld Istanbul. To be held in November 2014, the first edition of Texworld is already garnering a huge response from the market.

Olaf Schmidt, Vice President, Textiles & Textile Technologies, Messe Frankfurt has confirmed that Texworld Istanbul has received numerous registrations and the fair is all set to welcome around 150 exhibitors from over 10 countries. The fair shall have an array of leading brands from the leading textile manufacturing countries. While the fair primarily targets the consumers and traders of Turkey, it also aims to attract consumers and traders from Middle East, Asia and Europe.

Turkey being the biggest textile exporters, Istanbul is deemed to add leverage to the Texworld edition with its launch.  While the portfolio of the products corresponds with the parent editions of Texworld, Texworld Istanbul is likely to showcase cotton and functional fabrics from Pakistan, blended and knitted fabrics from Taiwan, and lace, embroidery and silk fabrics from India, Indonesia and South Korea. Texworld Istanbul will be held from November 4 to 6, 2014 at Lütfi Kirdar International Convention & Exhibition Centre.

The cotton industry can no longer rest on its laurels as a natural fiber if it is to avoid falling further behind the man-made fiber industry. In a fast-moving world the cotton industry needs to find new ways to match synthetic fibers. In terms of market share, cotton is now less than one-third of total textiles, while 20 years ago cotton was at 48 per cent of the total textile demand.

The cotton industry moves relatively slower than the man-made fiber industry. Man-made fiber industries, by virtue of the fact they are produced in a factory, are committed to innovation and technology and are also very customer-centric. Customers are at the centre of their planning and development systems. While the cotton industry is constrained by a plethora of institutions, the man-made fiber sector is not as institution-heavy.

Man-made fibers offer flexibility. They offer stretch, which is what consumers have come to expect from their clothing. Man-made fabrics are now very breathable and pleasant to wear. Synthetics have several advantages over their natural rival: without the threat of weather or disease, quality and supplies are more consistent, prices are more stable and technology has cut costs and increased efficiency.

A company in Sweden has developed the world's first garment made entirely from recycled cotton. A Japanese company has developed a similar technology that polymerises polyester, turns it into polyester chips and then turns those chips into new fibers of equal quality. The result is a new polyester fabric that’s just as good as the fabric in the discarded clothes. The process reduces Co2 emissions by 77 per cent compared to polyester made from petroleum. Though the new garments do require non-recycled content  the process also reduces the consumption of petroleum, the raw material from which polyester is made. 

The prospect of clothes recycling makes fast fashion an attractive trend. The Swedish cotton recycling scores particularly well as it uses no new ingredients other than timber, whose cellulose fibers can be added to the existing cotton ones. But recycling of fabric often involves dangerous materials such as heavy metals. And because rayon is much harder to recycle than cotton, the recycling doesn't go full circle. It’s thought a better approach is to compost the clothes. Valuable nutrients could be added to clothes, which would benefit the soil when the garments are composted.

A vision is that clothes recycling will take a route similar to paper recycling. Early on in paper recycling, only a small share of paper was recycled. Now most paper is recycled and yields good results. The same thing could happen to fabric.

The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) is apprehending large-scale bankruptcies if energy security and affordability issues are not addressed on a war footing. Serious energy supply constraints have already led to forced closures of production capacities by 40 to 50 per cent, says APTMA. It fears the industry would be unable to procure the cotton crop already arriving in the market if the issues are not addressed immediately.

Against a target of $16 billion, Pakistan’s textile industry exports closed at $13 billion during the outgoing fiscal year. One reason is the limited energy supply, to the Punjab-based textile mills that constitute 70 per cent of the total textile industry in Pakistan. 

Exports of both yarn and fabric registered 26 and 35 per cent decline in quantity terms, respectively, during the last three months. It further triggered serious supply chain issues for the value-added sector right from knitting to woven to bed linen, which consequently failed to avail of the GSP Plus facility from the EU.

APTMA has urged the government to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply to industry and expedite sales tax refunds. It also says the US should be pursued for market access facility in line with the GSP Plus facility from the EU.

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