An Overview of the Bangladesh Ready-Made Garment Industry

The RMG industry is the only multi-billion-dollar manufacturing and export industry in Bangladesh. Whereas the industry contributed only 0.001 per cent to the country’s total export earnings in 1976, its share increased to about 75 per cent of those earnings in 2005. Bangladesh exported garments worth the equivalent of $6.9 billion in 2005, which was about 2.5 per cent of the global total value ($276 billion) of garment exports. The country’s RMG industry grew by more than 15 per cent per annum on average during the last 15 years. The foreign exchange earnings and employment generation of the RMG sector have been increasing at double-digit rates from year to year.Some important issues related to the RMG industry of Bangladesh are noted in table 1.
Bangladesh Ready-Made Garment Industry
Bangladesh Ready-Made Garment Industry
Table 1. Important issues related to the Bangladesh ready-made garment industry

Year(s) ......................................Issue
  • 1977-1980 ..............Early period of growth
  • 1982-1985 .............Boom days
  • 1985 .......................Imposition of quota restrictions
  • 1990s...................... Knitwear sector developed significantly
  • 1993-1995 ..............Child labour issue and its solution
  • 2003 ........................Withdrawal of Canadian quota restriction
  • 2005 ........................Phase-out of export-quota system
Source: Compiled by the author from Quddus and Rashid (2000), Mainuddin (2000) and databases of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, and the Export Promotion Bureau, Bangladesh.

Currently, there are more than 4,000 RMG firms in Bangladesh. More than 95 per cent of those firms are locally owned with the exception of a few foreign firms located in export processing zones (Gonzales, 2002). The RMG firms are located mainly in three main cities: the capital city Dhaka, the port city Chittagong and the industrial city Narayangonj. Bangladesh RMG firms vary in size. Based on Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) data, Mainuddin (2000) found that in 1997 more than 75 per cent of the firms employed a maximum of 400 employees each. Garment companies in Bangladesh form formal or informal groups. The grouping helps to share manufacturing activities, to diversify risks; horizontal as well as vertical coordination can be easily found in such group activities.

Ready-made garments manufactured in Bangladesh are divided mainly into two broad categories: woven and knit products. Shirts, T-shirts and trousers are the main woven products and undergarments, socks, stockings, T-shirts, sweaters and other casual and soft garments are the main knit products. Woven garment products still dominate the garment export earnings of the country. The share of knit garment products has been increasing since the early 1990s; such products currently account for more than 40 per cent of the country’s total RMG export earnings (BGMEA website). Although various types of garments are manufactured in the country, only a few categories, such as shirts, T-shirts, trousers, jackets and sweaters, constitute the major production-share (BGMEA website; and Nath, 2001). Economies of scale for large-scale production and export-quota holdings in the corresponding categories are the principal reasons for such a narrow product concentration.

More articles on Bangladesh Ready-Made Garment Industry
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http://textilelearner.blogspot.com/2014/07/rmg-leading-earning-sector-in-bangladesh.html
http://textilelearner.blogspot.com/2013/07/fire-of-readymade-garment-industry-in.html


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