DHAKA: Bangladesh saw its garment exports increase over 9% in the first six months of its 2015/2016 financial year, new figures show.
Exports of garments, comprising knitwear and woven items, reached US$13.13bn in the period from July to December, a 9.2% increase on the prior year, according to data from the Bangladesh Export Promotion Bureau.
Total exports for the period increased 7.8% from the prior year to reach $16.1bn. Garment exports account for around 81% of the country’s total exports.
The Bangladeshi garment industry was worth $25.5bn in 2014 thanks to its low labour costs, abundant labour, and duty-free access to western countries. It’s reputation took a hit following the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013, but a major effort to inspect factories for builder and worker safety has helped the industry’s image.
As part of this work, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, the group of North American brands and retailers working to improve safety in Bangladesh’s RMG factories, this week pushed for the suspension of more than 20 facilities over “a lack of progress” in ensuring a safe working environment.
In addition to the work being carried out by the Alliance and Accord, a Better Work programme was set up in October 2013 as a joint venture of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and has since been gaining momentum. Represented by 30 buyer partners globally, it now has 94 member factories.
The initiative provides factory-level services, including assessments of compliance with national labour law and international standards, as well as advisory and training services to help factories make improvements, not only to working conditions but also in productivity and quality.