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Bangladesh Prime Minister Asks International Buyers to Pay Higher Prices for Garments

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called on international buyers to pay up for product in order to better the low-wage nation’s ready made garment (RMG) industry. The sector has struggled as a result of deadly tragedies and poor labor conditions, which manifested in the media over the last couple of years.

Speaking at her inauguration speech at the first ever Dhaka Apparel Summit, which took place from Dec. 7-9, Sheikh Hasina addressed the sector’s needs for improvement, one of which is more money.

“Many buyers and their representatives remain present in today’s function. It is my request to them, increase the prices of the products,” Bangladesh’s BSS News reported Hasina as saying. “Then, our worker brothers and sisters could lead a more comfortable life and all would become an equal development partner.”

Addressing the issue of compliance, Hasina said appointed officials have already visited 2,193 factories under the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, and the National Action Plan, in order to ensure the factories are secure.

“Most of the factories are being run without trouble. The reform work in other factories is progressing fast,” she said, according to BSS. “The government has appointed inspectors to garment factories and we firmly believe that we could face this challenge,” she added.

According to Hasina, Bangladesh’s highly potential RMG industry is being threatened by local and international conspirators out to destroy the sector. “Bangladesh is the world’s second largest readymade garment exporting country. But many don’t like it and they are engaged in plotting against the sector,” she said, according to BSS. If problems arise in the RMG sector, Hasina said they can be solved, and urged garment owners, workers and foreign buyers to save the sector despite potential conspirators.

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The prime minister continued on to note Bangladesh’s progress in the sector to date, mentioning the elimination of import duties on fire safety equipment, raising the monthly minimum wage by 220 percent over five years to its current 5300 taka ($69), and increasing power generation and daily gas production.

Bangladesh is working to expand its RMG exports to $50 billion by 2021, and to take the country into middle income status by that time. Hasina said the government has already taken steps to expand the market and Bangladesh gets duty-free access for 46 products to India, and duty-free access for 98 percent of goods to China.

“The aim of the present government is to upgrade Bangladesh as middle income country by 2021 and a developed one by 2041. And for this, a scope for massive industrialisation and employment will have to be created,” the prime minister said.