Historical Background of Textile Production in Bangladesh

 Historical Background of Textile Production in Bangladesh
Textiles play an important role in the economic life of Bangladesh. The sector, in addition to meeting the demand of fabrics and apparel domestically, contributes significantly to the textiles and clothing (T&C) export trade. At present, more than 78 per cent of the country’s export earnings come from T&C. The sector provides employment to a workforce of 4.5 million and contributes 40 per cent value addition to the manufacturing sector. Textiles as a whole play the most significant role in the alleviation of poverty, provision of employment to rural women and economic empowerment of women. The sector provides 200,000 jobs in the waste recycling industry related to ready-made garments (RMG), contributes 10.5 per cent to GDP, provides indirect employment for an 800,000-workforce in accessories industries related to T&C and generates a huge cliental base for banking, insurance, shipping, transport, hotel, cosmetics, toiletries and related economic activities.
Workers in RMG Industry in Bangladesh
Bangladesh entered the international T&C trade in the early part of the 1980s, when the Government opted for a market-oriented economy. Investments in the primary textile sector (PTS), i.e., spinning, weaving and dyeing-printing-finishing (textile product processors), started at the same time as the expansion and entry of ready-made garments (apparels and clothing) into international markets. When Bangladesh entered the global T&C markets, export earnings were insignificant. For example, during fiscal year 1981/82 (July-June), the share of T&C in total export earnings was 1.1 per cent (comprising only woven garments). Over the years, that share increased to 78 per cent of the total earnings, to reach US$ 8.1 billion during fiscal 2005/06.

Immediately after liberation in 1972, the Government opted for a socialistic economic policy by nationalizing all big industries. At that time, all large textile mills were nationalized. However, when the Government opted for a market-oriented economic policy, the textile mills were gradually handed over to the private sector in phases.

Ministry of Textiles records show that as of 2006 there were 23 textile mills under Government ownership with 400,000 installed spindles and a total capacity of 40 million kg of yarn production. However, most of the mills are non-functional and the machinery is obsolete. Although the performance of public sector mills has slowly declined, private sector mills have flourished under the supportive policy of successive governments. 
Growth pattern of primary textile mills in Bangladesh
Source: Bangladesh Textile Manufacturers Association.
Since the T&C sector comprises spinning, weaving, dyeing-printing-finishing, hand looms and power looms, export-oriented ready-made garment units and other ancillary textile units.
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Mazharul Islam Kiron is a textile consultant and researcher on online business promotion. He is working with one European textile machinery company as a country agent. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.

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