RMG facing image obstacle
Staff Correspondent: Nearly 70 percent of the European clothing retailers skip out on using the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ line in the tags – a puzzling practice that undermines the aptitude of the country’s garment makers. Bangladesh is the second largest apparel supplier in the world with a 6.5 percent share of the market. The poor image of the country, stemming from sub-standard workplace safety and low payment to workers, have compelled the European apparel companies to avoid the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ label, according to industry insiders. Moreover, it is not mandatory in the European Union to state the country of origin of the garment; only the fabric composition and care instructions are needed in the labelling, said Faruque Hassan, vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association. The same retailers use the countries of origin for others though. It is only in case of Bangladesh that they forfeit transparency. Hassan, however, ruled out the possibility of Bangladesh’s garment products being re-branded as another country’s in the absence of the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ line in the tags. Both the buyers and manufacturers have strict tracking system now, Hassan said. Labelling the country of origin or the country of export is mandatory under the Tariff Act of 1930 in the US, so all American retailers use the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ line in the tags.”Actually, we also did not pursue the European buyers or the European governments to make it mandatory to write the line ‘Made in Bangladesh’ on the tags,” Hassan said, adding that the garment manufacturers have taken a branding initiative to brighten their image. For example, Bangladesh can now proudly proclaim that its garment sector is amongst the safest in the world after inspection and remediation of the factory buildings by the Accord and Alliance. Moreover, Bangladesh has the highest number of green factory buildings in the world, he said. Currently, 73 green garment factories are in operation in Bangladesh, with more than 300 awaiting certification by the US Green Building Council. The quality of products from Bangladesh has improved a lot over the years due to installation of modern machinery, high-quality design and fashion education.”But it has not been branded accurately among the Western customers by the local garment manufacturers.”Almost all the major clothing brands source from Bangladesh due to its competitive pricing, according to Hassan. “We have also hiked the wage of workers as per the recommendations of some of the buyers,” he added.KI Hossain, president of the Bangladesh Garment Buying House Association, echoed the same as Hassan.”We need a very good public relations initiative to brighten the image of the country and remove some of the wrong ideas about Bangladesh from the minds of the customers.”Moreover, the garment manufacturers need to insist on the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ line in the tags. “They should have done it a lot earlier,” he added.