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Textile

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http://www.bangladeshaccord.org/bangladesh/

The southern Asian country of Bangladesh, bordered by India and Burma, has a population of approximately 164 million people[1]. The Bangladesh economy has grown an average of six percent a year over the last two decades and has a population increasing by an average of 1.59% a year[2]. This manufacturing industry accounted for almost 12% of Bangladeshi GDP in 2009 and 2010[3] and employs approximately four million people[4].
The export-oriented Bangladeshi garment manufacturing industry has boomed into a $19 billion dollar a year industry[5] following the expiry in 2005 of an international agreement on textiles and clothing import quotas in place since the early 1960’s[6], duty-free access offered by western countries, and low labour costs.
The Bangladeshi textile and garment manufacturing sector is fuelled by young, urbanizing, workers many of whom are women. With the majority of production destined for U.S. and European markets, Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry now accounts for approximately 78% of total exports[7], second only to China as the world’s largest apparel exporter.
 
However, Bangladesh has a long history of health and safety tragedies in garment and textile manufacturing. Garment factory fires and collapses have killed at least 1800 workers since 2005[8].
The Tazreen Fashions fire on 24th November 2012 and the unprecedented disaster of the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex on 24 April 2013, together resulting in the tragic death of over 1,200 garment workers are examples of the most recent and highly publicised disasters. The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is designed to make all garment factories safe workplaces and is specifically developed to deal with the unique challenges facing the ready-made garment and textile industry in Bangladesh.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangladesh_textile_industry

Exports of textiles and garments are the principal source of foreign exchange earnings
By 2013, about 4 million people, mostly women, worked in Bangladesh's $19 billion-a-year industry, export-oriented ready-made garment (RMG) industry. Bangladesh is second only to China, the world's second-largest apparel exporter of western brands. Sixty percent of the export contracts of western brands are with European buyers and about forty percent with American buyers.[3] Only 5% of textile factories are owned by foreign investors, with most of the production being controlled by local investors.
Bangladesh's textile industry has been part of the trade versus aid debate. The encouragement of the garment industry of Bangladesh as an open trade regime is argued to be a much more effective form of assistance than foreign aid. Tools such as quotas through the WTO Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC) and Everything but Arms (EBA) and the US 2009 Tariff Relief Assistance in the global clothing market have benefited entrepreneurs in Bangladesh's ready-made garments (RMG) industry. Bangladesh with a population of about 156 million, has the highest population density in the world. In 2012 the textile industry accounted for 45% of all industrial employment in the country yet only contributed 5% of the Bangladesh's total national income.
Until the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, the textile sector was primarily part of the process of import substitution industrialization (ISI) to replace imports. After the liberation, Bangladesh adopted export-oriented industrialization (EOI) by focusing on the textile and clothing industry, particularly the readymade garment (RMG) sector. Immediately after the founding of Bangladesh (1971)[8])
Entrepreneurs from quota-restricted countries like South Korea began "quota hopping" seeking quota-free countries that could become quota-free manufacturing sites. The export-oriented readymade garment (RMG) industry emerged at this time. Daewoo of South Korea was an early entrant in Bangladesh, when it established a joint venture in December 27, 1977 with Desh Garments Ltd. making it the first export oriented ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh.
From 1995 to 2005 the WTO Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC) was in effect, wherein more industrialized countries consented to export fewer textiles while less industrialized countries enjoyed increased quotas for exporting their textiles.[2] Throughout the 10-year agreement, Bangladesh’s economy benefited from quota-free access to European markets and desirable quotas for the American and Canadian markets.[4]
Textile exports from Bangladesh to the United States did increase by 10% in 2009.[22]
Currently, the textile mills provide 70% of national exports. This proportion is even higher in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, the number of employed workers in the textile industry increased by 400 000 in 1990 to 2 million in 2004, and the number of enterprises – from 800 to 4000. Nine out of ten people employed in the industry – are women. In general, the state of the textile industry depends on well-being of 10-12 million people in Bangladesh. By IMF estimates, as a result of the abolition of quota exports of Bangladesh will be reduced by 25%.

The United States introduced the Tariff Relief Assistance for Developing Economies Act of 2009[42] designated Bangladesh as one of the 14 least developed countries (LDC), as defined by the United Nations and the US State Department, eligible for "duty-free access for apparel assembled in those countries and exported to the U.S." from 2009 through 2019. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), an industry lobby group, claimed that in 2008 alone Bangladesh paid "$USD 576 million as duty against its export of nearly $3 billion' mainly consisting of woven and knitwear.

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21588393-workers-continue-die-unsafe-factories-industry-keeps-booming-bursting-seams

The country’s clothing industry has the advantage of scale: it has 5,000 factories, compared with 2,500 in Indonesia and 2,000 in Vietnam. Its labour costs less than any of its Asian rivals’: even a near tripling in the minimum wage, to $100 a month, as garment workers are demanding from the government, would not change this. And unlike clothes put together in China, India and Sri Lanka, those stitched in Bangladesh enjoy duty-free access to the European Union.
Such is the growth in demand for cheap wear that Bangladesh’s clothing industry is forecast to quadruple in size over the next 20 years. It already employs 4m, mostly women, in a country with 31m households. Unless productivity rises sharply, millions more women will be drawn from their homes into the workplace, a drastic change in a conservative society.
Although output is booming, profitability has slumped. In the past five years the price of the average garment has fallen by 12% in local-currency terms. In that period the factory owners’ return on investment has plunged from an average of 50% to 20%, estimates Forrest Cookson, an American economist and expert on the Bangladeshi economy. That still sounds good but capital is costly. To get money from domestic banks, palms have to be greased, so textile firms in effect borrow at around 18%.
So, despite the prospect of years of further growth to come, some local factory owners are talking of selling up. A recent surge in Bangladeshis buying homes abroad is perhaps a sign that some of the families that control the clothing business are preparing an exit. Others are getting money out by underinvoicing foreign sales and keeping the difference abroad.
If the government forces the factory owners to increase pay (an election is coming, so it may well do so), they will be even less willing and able to invest in making their premises less hazardous. The most promising way to make the country’s clothing industry both safer and more profitable is to boost productivity and output at the larger and generally better-run factories, and drive the smaller, dodgier ones out of business

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