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Bangladesh: Global Buyers Plead for Restored Supply Chain

Global buyers have appealed to Bangladesh’s commerce minister to maintain the supply chain, despite the ongoing political unrest and blockades, for the sake of the country’s apparel industry.

At a Buyer’s Forum meeting in Dhaka Monday, representatives from 65 brands including Inditex, H&M, Walmart, Gap, C&A and Tesco, asked Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed to restore the ready made garment (RMG) supply chain, which has recently experienced delays in imports and exports as a result of the transportation blockades, according to the Dhaka Tribune.

In response, Ahmed told buyers that the supply chain would not continue to be disrupted because the ministry is working to ensure adequate security measures are in place.

“The BNP and its allies are operating militant activities in the name of hartal and blockades but they won’t be able to hinder the economic growth,” the Tribune reported Ahmed as saying.

Bangladesh’s government was said to be providing security escorts for goods moving on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway to ensure smooth transit, but goods traveling along alternate routes have still faced transport problems.

The blockades came as a result of tensions between Bangladesh’s two major political parties, the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) and the Awami League surrounding the one-year anniversary of the country’s national elections, which the ruling Awami League government won, but the BNP boycotted citing that they would have been rigged. Ensuing violence led to deaths, though Ahmed said the magnitude of the violence has since come down.

According to the Tribune, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Atiqul Islam said buyers had begun returning to Bangladesh post Rana Plaza as assured safety standards based on inspection reports from organizations like the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety restored at least some confidence.

“But the ongoing political unrest has once again cast shadow on this potential sector, which is very unfortunate for us,” Islam said.

In previous reports, Islam said the sector produces roughly $55 million worth of apparel product daily could encounter a considerable setback should the blockade continue to hinder the movement of goods.

Buyers reportedly expressed a general sentiment that if the situation continues much longer, they would find it difficult to do business in Bangladesh.