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US Vows to Support Bangladeshi Garment Industry

The United States government will work with two Bangladeshi banks to fund a $22 million credit guarantee to help improve safety at the country’s readymade garment (RMG) factories.

Speaking Thursday at the Bangladesh Apparel & Safety Exposition in the southeastern city of Chittagong, Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat said that as the biggest importer of Bangladeshi garments—$5 billion last year—the U.S. wants to help the country reach its global export goal of $50 billion by 2021.

According to The Daily Star, she called it an ambitious but attainable target, adding, “But we also know that certain things must occur for it to happen.”

When the Rana Plaza building collapsed in April of 2013, killing more than 1,100 people, the world’s attention shifted to garment worker safety issues and more than two-thirds of the country’s exporting garment factories have since been inspected. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has said that many of these have been charged with improvements and upgrades that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars—putting many small factories that can’t finance these renovations at risk of closure.

Easy access to low-cost loans, however, would go a long way to helping these factories get up to speed.

Bernicat added, “Worldwide, the garment industry is a highly competitive business and you, the RMG manufacturers, know better than any of us the need to evolve rapidly in order to remain viable.”