Dhaka, Bangladesh, April 23, 2020—IFC,
a member of the World Bank Group, brought together around 40 development
partners, global apparel brands, industry representatives and financial
intermediaries for a virtual dialogue to assess the reconstruction of Bangladesh's
readymade garments sector in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The textile sector contributes one-fifth
of the country's GDP and more than four-fifths of its export earnings,
while directly employing more than 4.5 million people, mostly women. However,
the industry is facing significant challenges from the worldwide COVID-19
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers
and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers
and Exporters Association (BKMEA) have advised all garment factories to
remain closed until April 25. According to BGMEA, as of April 22, almost
$3.2 billion of orders had been canceled or suspended, affecting over 2.3
million workers of 1,144 factories.
“COVID-19 has impacted our industry
and our workers. As we move forward, we must work together to overcome
this crisis,” said Rubana Huq, President of BGMEA. “Only when we stand
together, can we rise and shape tomorrow for the better.”
IFC aims to help tackle these challenges
by bringing partners together to discuss the immediate challenges as well
as build on opportunities in the post-COVID recovery stage. During the
dialogue, a consensus was built on the need for strong partnerships, including
multi-stakeholder and multilateral cooperation. Participants also stressed
that the industry needs product, market and sectoral diversification, more
structured access to finance, and enhanced emphasis on sustainability.
“We have an opportunity to reassess,
reset, and reshape Bangladesh's apparel sector. It is time to rewire the
system to recover and remain competitive,” said Nishat Shahid Chowdhury,
Program Manager for Partnership for Cleaner Textile, advisory project of
Wendy Werner, IFC Country Manager for
Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, launched the first dialogue of a series.
It was moderated by Dr. Ahsan Mansur, Executive Director, Policy Research
Institute. Participants included Winnie Estrup Peterson, Ambassador to
the Royal Danish Embassy; Harry Verweij, Ambassador to the Kingdom of Netherlands;
Charlotta Schlyter, Ambassador to the Embassy of Sweden; high officials
from Embassy of United States, Germany, and Spain, as well as representatives
from multilateral agencies. Members of international brands also attended
along with BGMEA and senior officials of the World Bank Group.
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank
Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private
sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide,
using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities
in the toughest areas of the world. In fiscal year 2019, we delivered more
than $19 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging
the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared
prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.