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World Bank suggests ways to improve South Asian apparel sector

A World Bank book titled ‘Stitches to Riches’, offers specific policy recommendations for stakeholders to better leverage the apparel manufacturing sector's potential in South Asia. The book is focused on identifying key bottlenecks and areas for improvement in the South Asian countries compared with those of their closest competitors in the South East Asian region (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia).

The recommendations include:) removing trade restrictions to allow easy access to manmade fibers as inputs; increasing efficiency along the value chain such as integration between textile and apparel; and third improving social and environmental compliance by introducing better human resource practices.

At the country level, policy highlights include suggestions that Bangladesh should improve performance on non-cost factors important to buyers. Stitches to Riches says India must address constraints to firm growth (like integration of textile and apparel, and access to manmade fibers), and Sri Lanka should position itself as regional hub and take advantage of emerging markets.

The book also suggests that Pakistan should increase product diversity and reliability, and take advantage of new markets. Stitches to Riches has been motivated by South Asia's urgent need to create more and better jobs for a growing population.