Experts and exporters are stressing the enhancement of negotiation skills in international trade to get fair prices for readymade garment products. According to them, Bangladeshi exporters are not getting fair and reasonable prices for their products due to lack of negotiation skills along with other shortcomings. At a consultation meeting on RMG exports and sustainable development goals, they also said that entrepreneurs should also provide a living wage instead of minimum wage to workers for enhancing productivity as only living wage could meet the proper nutritional needs of the workers.

South Asian Network on Economic Modeling arranged the meeting at the Westin Hotel in Dhaka. Former Bangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rahman was of the opinion that negotiation skills at both the entrepreneurs’ level and the government level and relationship with buyers were very important for reaping fair prices for export products. The government should help the manufacturers and exporters to improve the skills along with creating clothing brand and building the country’s image abroad, he said.

Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association second Vice-President Fazlee Shamim Ehsan said that the local exporters were getting lower prices for RMG products than what the Cambodian and Vietnamese exporters were getting from the global buyers. For example, the same buyer who has been supplying factories in both Bangladesh and Cambodia offers 50 per cent less price to Bangladeshi manufacturers for the similar products, he said. There may be various reasons for the situation but poor performance in negotiations is one of the key reasons, he said.

SANEM Executive Director Selim Raihan, in his presentation on the future of RMG industry in Bangladesh, said that the lead time would be a matter in RMG export in future as the country might lose the cost advantage in the coming days. Domestic competitiveness, cost of doing business, workplace safety, diversification of products and markets, skilled labour force, attracting foreign direct investment and technological advancement and automation in production process will also be key to maintaining momentum in the export growth, he added. SANEM Chairman Bazlul Haque Khondker presented a keynote paper on the SANEM’s ongoing study titled garment workers’ diaries. According to the findings of the first phase study which is being conducted on RMG workers of Bangladesh, India and Cambodia, Bangladeshi workers work the highest; 60 hours a week while workers in Cambodia and India work 47 hours and 46 hours a week respectively. It was also founded that 54 per cent of Bangladeshi workers were paid below the minimum wage.