The U.S. State Department may have put out an alert warning buyers traveling to Bangladesh against potential terrorist attacks targeted at them, but manufacturers there say business has been little fazed.
When the initial travel alert came out in July following attacks at the Holey Artisan restaurant in Dhaka that killed more than 20 people, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) expressed concern that the threats would have an adverse impact on the industry.
“The Holey Artisan incident was shocking for us. After that incident our government, with the support of intelligence and law enforcement agencies, has taken stern actions for zero tolerance,” BGMEA president Siddiqur Rahman, said. “During past few months we have seen how actively the law enforcers are identifying the terrorists and their allies.”
Since the July attacks, Rahman said foreigners were panicked about visiting Bangladesh, but now that law enforcement agencies are cracking down and buyers have special support for their visits to the country, the panic has eased.
Bangladesh held its Sustainable Sourcing Conference in Dhaka in September and more than three hundred foreigners from different countries attended the event and last month International Labour Organization director general Guy Ryder attended the Dhaka Summit on Skills and Employability. Both events went on without incident, according to the BGMEA.
For Atif Ahmed, director of Synergies Sourcing Bangladesh—which manufactures apparel for companies like Inditex and Kik—life hasn’t changed much.
“After the recent U.S. travel warning, the government took some hard measures already to find the culprits,” Ahmed said. “Locals and Westerners all have started hanging out in cafés, restaurants, etc.”
The start of the year typically tends to be a busy time for Synergies as customers look to start up their planning for the year post holidays, and Ahmed said none of his buyers have changed their travel plans to Bangladesh.
“The last three to four days we have clients in our showroom and many of them are scheduled this week and in following weeks,” Ahmed said.
The BGMEA president reiterated that the government is taking measures to quell any terrorists threats to protect the ready made garment sector and the country.
“Our government is doing its best to stop any untoward happening because of our own interest. However, nobody can guarantee which place in the world is going to be targeted next and life cannot stop in that fear,” Rahman said. “The global media has a strong role to play here. Media should not do anything that spreads panic, rather present the facts that help people to be cautious and resist.”