A collaborative approach among governments, brands and suppliers will be the key to ensure better recovery of the global apparel sector which has suffered an unprecedented disruption in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The observation emerged on Saturday at a virtual dialogue titled “Recovery of the Apparels Sectors from the COVID-19 Crisis: Is a Value Chain based Solution Possible?”, organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in partnership with Southern Voice.
Experts also viewed that despite various initiatives at the national level, the process of medium-term recovery in major supplying countries, including Bangladesh is rather slow.
Existing national-level measures have limited the role to ensure smooth recovery of the apparels enterprises, they stated.
While delivering the introductory remarks, CPD’s Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun shared that these findings are part of a joint study by the CPD and Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS).
She shared that the study explored a value-chain based solution for the suppliers of Bangladesh.
Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, Research Director, CPD while making the keynote presentation stated that the study found that the lack of initiatives of major market players has kept the suppliers and workers in uncertainty to address the medium-term challenges.
He also said that major market players, including brands, buyers and governments of sourcing countries, need to undertake responsible business practices (RBPs) for sustainable recovery.
“To ensure the earliest recovery, framework of a value chain based distributive approach was proposed in the presentation”, said Mr Moazzem.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, while speaking as the chief guest stated that the government is trying to revive trade through stimulus packages.
He suggested that in the medium-term, Bangladesh should look for new markets through product diversification.
The minister also called for a collective effort from the brands, buyers, manufacturers and the government.
Harry Verweij, Ambassador of the Netherlands and KM Abdus Salam, Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment were present at the dialogue as special guests.
Guest of Honour Dr Rubana Huq, President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), while replying to a question, said the apparel sector of Bangladesh could take an inward-looking approach.
Bangladesh can focus on local demand as there is a lack of global demand, she said adding that the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are financially challenged during this pandemic, and the credit programmes are not reaching these firms.
Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmmed, Specialist on Worker Activities, International Labour Organization (ILO), ACTRAV-South Asia, emphasised focusing on the well-being of the labours, who are working for factories which are not under any association.
He suggested forming a central security fund as a long-term solution for the labours.
Amirul Hoque Amin; President, National Garments Workers Federation (NGWF), Kalpona Akter, Executive Director, Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity (BCWS), Ziaur Rahman, Regional Country Manager of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Ethiopia H&M, along with high-level policymakers, political leaders, academics, development practitioners, business leaders, civil society activists, international development partners and journalists were present at the dialogue.
Professor Mustafizur Rahman, Distinguished Fellow, CPD moderated the discussion.