Despite Bangladesh’s ongoing struggles with workplace safety, factories in the country that are compliant have seen a recent increase in orders from global buyers.
According to The Financial Express (FE) in Bangladesh, large ready-made garment (RMG) factories that maintain labor standards like workers’ safety, fire safety, and implement evacuation plans and oversee proper machine installation are now working to meet growing demand.
Aminul Islam, general secretary of the Bangladesh Garment Buying House Association told the FE, “Global buyers have been turning to some of selected RMG factories placing fresh orders, which are maintaining good compliance.”
Naturally, following the Rana Plaza building collapse that took place just over one year ago, international brands pulled their orders from non-compliant factories in favor of those with safety standards in place.
Nasir Uddin Chowdhury, managing director of Eastern Apparels Ltd told the FE, “It is true that there are no shortage of work orders for compliant factories. But the medium and small factories which could not fulfill safety standard are going to face orders shortage.”
Anwar Shahid, managing director of Shimex International Ltd, a leading garment buying house in Bangladesh, told FE that brands are still buying in Bangladesh but are considering fire and structural safety before placing import orders.
New orders to compliant factories have increased more than 15 percent recently, he said.
Ever since tragedies like Rana Plaza and the Tazreen factory fire brought the country’s lackluster factory standards to light, Bangladesh’s $22 billion apparel industry has been under pressure to improve. Initiatives like the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety have also been closely monitoring the sector.
Almost all European and American brands including H&M, C&A, Kmart, Target, Gap, Walmart, Li & Fung and J.C. Penney are increasingly sourcing from the country’s compliant factories, Shahid added.
According to data from Bangladesh’s Export Promotion Bureau, knitwear exports posted 16 percent growth in the first nine months of the current fiscal year and woven garment exports grew 13 percent, FE reported.
The RMG industry accounted for $21.5 billion of the country’s exports in the 2012-2013 fiscal year and experts expect that number to reach $24.1 billion this fiscal year.