GENEVA — Bangladesh needs to diversify from its export-oriented textiles and apparel sector to a greater focus on design and local branding to help the industry move to a higher value chain, Ghulam Hussain, secretary of the ministry of commerce, told a global forum.
The poor South Asian nation also attaches “great importance” to taking advantage of market access opportunities, Hussain told a two-day World Trade Organization review session of Bangladesh’s trade regime.
Robust growth in exports of textiles and apparel, which in the year through June accounted for 87 percent of the nation’s total merchandise exports of $24.2 billion, up from $22.8 billion the prior year, has helped the country post an annual growth rate of more than 6 percent in the last few years, said a WTO report on Bangladesh. In apparel, which accounted for a 79.2 percent share of total exports, the biggest categories were T-shirts and vests; trousers, overalls and shorts, and jerseys, pullovers and cardigans.
The European Union was the top destination for Bangladesh’s merchandise exports with a 52.5 percent share, followed by the U.S. with 21 percent and Canada with 4.1 percent.
Michael Punke, U.S. ambassador to the WTO, told delegates that bilateral goods trade is increasing “at an annual rate of 20 percent.”
“We see this most clearly in the strong partnerships created by Bangladeshi apparel producers and many leading U.S. retailers, meeting the growing demands of the U.S. market for such apparel,” Punke said.
The WTO notes that exports from Bangladesh have been spurred by duty-free access to the European Union, China, Canada, Australia and Norway, but added that the U.S. does not provide the same preferential access terms.
“At present, 96 percent of Bangladesh’s exports to the United States consist of ready-made garments and textile products, which are bought by retail groups such as Wal-Mart, Gap and Target,” the WTO said.
It added that although Bangladesh can apply for preferential tariffs under the U.S. General System of Preferences, “currently only 0.62 percent of the country’s goods exported “to the U.S. qualify under the [GSP] system.”
As a result, import duties on Bangladesh exports to the U.S. “amount to more than $500 million per year.”
The report said, “As a reputable low-cost producer of garments, Bangladesh has gained market share in recent years. This trend is expected to continue over the medium term.”
Trade analysts attribute the success of the garments sector in part to trade policies that boosted “credit flows and the availability [through bonded warehouse facilities] of inputs at world prices for garment exports.” Other factors cited for the favorable outlook include labor costs the WTO estimates “are 50 percent below the nearest competitor and only about one-third of those of China.”
“The country’s textile sector stands to be the main beneficiary of labor shortages, rising wages and capacity constraints in China,” it said.
In addition, production capacity “has continued to expand and there are signs that Japanese retailers, which hitherto mostly sourced from China and Vietnam, are starting to source more of their textiles and garments from Bangladesh.”
On the production side, the report said, foreign investors are showing interest “in large-scale relocation of labor intensive industries, particularly garments and related textile manufacturing.” In the previous year, textiles and apparel accounted for a 28.9 percent share of foreign direct investment inflows, up from 17.3 percent the year before.
The WTO said Bangladesh boasts 5,000 garment factories, employing 3.6 million people, mainly women, while by comparison, Indonesia has 2,450 garment factories, Vietnam has 2,000 and Cambodia just 260.
There'll be no rest for those headed to Europe for men's, as Paris just closed the gap with Milan. According to a provisional calendar released by the Chambre Syndicale, Paris Men's Week will now open a day earlier on January 16. See new highlights on the official lineup on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
BREAKING: Jonathan Saunders is leaving @DVF. The designer has resigned from his position as chief creative officer of Diane von Furstenberg, the company said in a statement on Friday. At the time of his hire, von Furstenberg said Saunders’ arrival symbolized and facilitated her stepping back from the day-to-day duties that occupy the work of a full-time creative director. The British designer joined DVF in May 2016 and was in charge of all product categories. #wwdnews
For @versace_official’s spring ad campaign, the brand emphasized the archival prints from the spring tribute collection dedicated to the late Gianni Versace. Closing out the show were five of Gianni’s favorite models: Cindy, Naomi, Carla, Helena, and Claudia. Bowing on December 18, the new campaign is yet another tribute to supermodel-dom as the images by Steven Meisel are fronted by @iamnaomicampbell, @cturlington, @gisele and more. #wwdfashion
Four-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening has been waiting 20 years to play Gloria Graham in "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool," which will be released on December 29. The movie about Graham – a Hollywood star known for her controversial relationship with a younger Englishman named Peter Turner – is based off a memoir Turned wrote. "She felt vulnerable to him, because she loved him, she really did love him. And anyone that we really truly are in love with, we re vulnerable to in a very deep way," said Bening. Read our full interview with the modern icon of an actress on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @ninebagatelles; Styled by @cristinaehrlich)
The crisp white button down: a staple that can be dressed up or down and accessorized throughout the decades. Here, on a Art Basel-goer in 2017 on the left and on the iconic Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 on the right. #tbt #wwdfashion (📷: Andrew Morales)
Known for her work with @victoriassecret, 25-year-old model @georgiafowler is raising her profile in Hollywood. Fowler stars in @vincecamuto’s holiday campaign, which launched in partnership with “Pitch Perfect 3.” “Almost every shoot with Vince Camuto, I’ve had to face a fear…It was definitely a challenge. I’m so grateful for it, though. I’ve always wanted to be a pop star, so that was the perfect chance,” Fowler said. Head to WWD.com to read about Fowler’s experience modeling, including at the #VSFashionShow, and her relationship with Nick Jonas. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
EXCLUSIVE: Huda Kattan just became the first beauty influencer to land a major beauty deal. Kattan's business, @hudabeauty, has received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. The brand, which industry sources say is on track to do $200 million in retail sales for 2017, will receive support on product, retail and geographic expansion through the deal. Get all the details on the deal and read @_a_collins' interview with Kattan on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Peruvian model @juanaburga_official – who is known for walking the runways of @rodarte, @viviennewestwood and @torybuch – is making the move to the big screen with drama “Los Últimos.” The film premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018. On making the switch from modeling to acting, Burga told WWD: “It’s a completely different thing – a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characrers, but film is a completely different story.” #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)