A new leadership chosen to head the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association this week has preempted weeks of bitter infighting and tension, ahead of elections scheduled for September 8.

The new BGMEA president is expected to be Siddiquur Rahman, who was earlier second vice president of the association and is chairman of the Sterling Group.

BGMEA is the premier organization and negotiating body between retailers, labor leaders, government officials and international agencies and has been in the midst of the many changes instituted in the garment industry in Bangladesh during the last two years, after the collapse of the eight-story Rana Plaza building.

Apparel exports account for more than 80 percent of Bangladesh’s export income of the country, or $24.5 billion in 2014. The sector also employs more than four million workers, more than two-thirds of whom are women.

As the process of getting loans and fixing factories after inspections for safety has been completed, BGMEA president Atiqul Islam has projected the industry will double in size over the next six years.

While the early decision for a new team is being applauded by some, as it ensures a president acceptable to all sides without losing working time, others feel that free elections are essential to ensure fairness.

The new team will take office at the end of September.

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