Despite posing unprecedented challenges, COVID-19 also offered the Bangladesh textile and apparel industry new opportunities to produce and export technical textiles such as PPE, surgery gowns, masks, etc. As per a BGMEA study, in FY 2020-21, Bangladesh exported PPE products worth over $618 million. Export of textile face masks without a replaceable filter or mechanical parts, including surgical masks and disposable face masks of non-woven textiles, increased to $105 million in the FY 2020-21 from $22.52 million in FY 2019-20, as per the study.
Titled ‘Feasibility Study on Upscaling the Production of TT / PPE in Bangladesh,’ the BGMEA study was conducted in collaboration with the German Development Corporation and GFA. It predicts, the global market for technical textiles will grow on an average 4.2 per cent annually to $224.4 billion by 2025. By 2025-end, the market is estimated to reach $93 billion. Europe will emerge as the leading importer of medical textiles followed by North America. This will present Bangladesh with unprecedented opportunities to boost exports.
Step up investments in backward linkages
PPEs and technical textile-based products do not form Bangladesh’s traditional exports. Hence, the country needs to develop its technical abilities to cater to this demand. It needs to step up investments in backward linkages besides entering into new collaborations and joint ventures to ensure uninterrupted supply of raw materials.
The BGMEA study guides manufacturers on ways to strategically plan future investments. It proves to be a valuable resource for industry associations, financial institutions, private companies, training and support service providers, investors both in-country and overseas, as well as government agencies.
Redefine operational paradigms
The study states, Bangladesh manufacturers planning to enter the TT/PPE market need to reorganize operations. They need to repriortize their objectives and redefine current operational paradigms. For this, they need to expand into the EU and US markets and build their reputation as a compliant and certified trading partner. Once Bangladesh builds its reputation, it can gradually introduce advanced and sophisticated products that offer greater profit margins to manufacturers. This will encourage more companies to foray into this subsector
Collaborations to boost market share Also, Bangladesh needs to combine infrastructure with new investments to compete effectively in technical textiles and PPE market. It needs to link technical textiles manufacturing with the traditional textile industry by making minor modifications in the knitting and weaving machinery.
The future of the Bangladesh TT/PPE sector lies in synergies and collaboration across the entire value chain. The industry needs to collaborate closely with scientists for new product innovation. However, most apparel factories are either reluctant to invest in R&D with long-term returns or lack sufficient resources to do so in a meaningful manner. This proposed sectoral development strategy will help integrate the key partners into the TT/PPE supply chain in a practical and organized fashion. The industry needs to seek out the necessary strategic partners as it attempts to capture its share in the TT/PPE market.