Nearly 1,200 garment factories in Bangladesh have shut shop in the last four years due to lack of compliance and being left behind in the competitive environment, according to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Siddiqur Rahman, who expects some more factories to close soon as they are unable to make profits.

Garment products from the country have been losing competitiveness due to longer lead time, poor productivity and poor global demand, Bangladesh media reports quoted Rahman as saying that in 2014, the global market size for apparel was $483 bn; in 2017, the figure declined to $454 bn.

Between 2014 and 2018, the prices of Bangladeshi garment items declined by 11.72 per cent in the US market while the cost of production rose by 29.54 per cent, the BGMEA chief said. A similar situation was seen in the European Union market as well. But garment owners spent a substantial amount for fixing the electrical and structural loopholes as recommended by Accord and Alliance experts. The cost of production will go up further after the implementation of the recommended minimum wage of Tk 8,000 from December this year, Rahman said.

The BGMEA leader praised the statement of the Clean Clothes Campaign, the International Labour Rights Forum and the Maquila Solidarity Network, which have urged 25 international retailers to hike the prices of garment items sourced from Bangladesh. He also urged the American Apparel and Footwear Association, which last year sent a letter to the Bangladeshi Prime Minister for raising workers’ wages, to now ask buyer companies to increase the prices of products.