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Rebranding RMG abroad is needed, says EU envoy

FE Report | November 01, 2018 12:00:00

Principal Coordinator (SDG Affairs) at the Prime Minister's Office Md. Abul Kalam Azad, HSBC Country Chief Francois de Maricourt, Country Director of UNDP Bangladesh Sudipto Mukerjee and Ambassador/Head of Delegation, Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh Rensje Teerink seen, among others, at a seminar on "Leveraging Sustainable Supply Chain in Apparel" organised jointly by UNDP and HSBC at a hotel in Dhaka on Wednesday, as a part of UNDP's Business Call to Action (BCtA) initiative which aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

A major rebranding of Bangladesh and its ready-made garment (RMG) sector are needed to enhance their images abroad, the European Union envoy in Dhaka has said.

"We need to work together for rebranding the country and the sector," the European Union Ambassador in Dhaka Rensje Teerink said at a seminar here on Wednesday.

She referred to a recent media report that nearly 70 per cent of the European clothing retailers skip out on using the 'Made in Bangladesh' line in the tags.

The country's poor image, stemming from poor workplace safety and low payment to workers, has compelled the European companies to avoid the 'Made in Bangladesh' label, according to the report.

Against this backdrop, Ms Teerink called for a joint effort for a major rebranding of the country and its RMG industry.

She also underlined the need for increasing wages of the garment workers.

"Last year, Bangladesh exported above $16-billion apparel products to the European Union," the envoy mentioned.

"There is no country that has managed to better grab the advantage of 'Everything but Arms' initiative than Bangladesh," she said.

"However, the wages for garment workers [in Bangladesh] are the lowest in the world," Ms Teerink stated.

It is lower than Cambodia or other countries that benefit from the scheme, she observed.

"There is also work needed to be done in terms of maintaining the International Labour Organisation compliance," the envoy further said.

She stressed the need for enhancing better business climate in the country. "Ease of doing business is something the country needs to focus on."

There have been steps to set up 100 special economic zones or 12 hi-tech parks. But attention should be given to what is already there, Ms Teerink said.

"We need to focus on the export processing zones that are already in existence and find out ways where we can improve the way they are working," she stated.

Earlier, the daylong seminar focused on ways to build sustainable business models for the local RMG industry.

The leading global financial giant HSBC organised the seminar in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Experts at the event observed that supply chain is responsible for the bulk of the environmental impact like greenhouse gas emissions.

It is, therefore, crucial to minimise its negative impact, they suggested.

"As the second-largest apparel exporter, Bangladesh should continue to drive the sustainable supply chain practices given the expected impact of climate change," said Francois de Maricourt, chief executive officer of HSBC in Bangladesh.

"Impact measurement can help identify supply chain gaps in policy, infrastructure or resources and creatively plug them to maximise social benefits and profits for everyone," said UNDP country director Sudipto Mukerjee.

Principal coordinator for SDG affairs Abul Kalam Azad as the chief guest said Bangladesh has already done ministry-wise mapping for implementation of sustainable development goals (SDGs).

"We've already produced SDG progress report at national level. It'd be mandatory to produce such reports at local level from next year," he cited.

"We have to change the global mindset that this country is not for basic RMG products. We can make value-added products," said Shwapna Bhowmick, country manager of Marks and Spenser.

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