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Bangladesh Denim Expo ends on a high note

By FashionUnited


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Dhaka - The second edition of the two-­day Bangladesh Denim Expo ended in Dhaka on Tuesday, May 12th, at Radisson Blu Water Garden hotel, showcasing the country’s capacity in denim production amid huge participation.

Twenty­five denim and jeans manufacturers from the USA, Spain, Japan, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey, China, San Marino and host country Bangladesh displayed their products and services at the exposition, which set a high target for Bangladeshi denim makers ­ 7 billion US dollars in exports by 2021 when the country’s total apparel exports are expected to reach 50 billion US dollars.

Shahriar Alam, state minister for foreign affairs, was present at the closing session, which was inaugurated by commerce minister Tofail Ahmed. He said that Bangladesh had cemented its position of exporting apparel in a global market, passing tough barriers in the past. “Bangladesh will be a role model in apparel exports by 2021 if the present growth continues,” he stated. Managing director of Denim Expert Ltd and Denim Expo organizer Mostafiz Uddin said the show aims not only at promoting the denim trade in the country but also at encouraging greater business practices to raise the living standard of the people of Bangladesh. Elaborating on the exhibition's target, Uddin said its primary purpose was to create a platform for denim makers to turn Bangladesh into a one­stop sourcing platform of denim products. Currently, Bangladesh is the second largest denim exporter to the European market and the third largest for the US market, according to the expo organisers. The country currently has 25 denim factories with a total investment of more than 834 million US dollars.

Bangladesh is the second largest denim exporter in the world

The head of the EU delegation and ambassador to Bangladesh, Pierre Mayaudon, also spoke on the occasion, as well as the Canadian high commissioner to Bangladesh, Benoit Pierre Laramee, BGMEA president Atiqul Islam and Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of the Exporters Association of Bangladesh. Abu Haider Kabir, business development manager of Bangladesh Denim Expo, told FashionUnited that events like the Expo routinely take place in France, USA and many other countries. "We thought, being the second largest denim exporter [in the world], Bangladesh should organise such an event too to showcase its capacity of producing high quality denim goods." He said till now, Bangladeshi factory owners made copies of apparel items based on what they are provided by the buyers. “But they do not try to create something on their own. In the seminars, we have called upon the factory owners to employ fashion designers for producing exclusively designed goods”, Kabir added.

The organisers confirmed that during the two­day exposition, four seminars were held about Bangladesh’s denim industry. One titled ‘Research and development, the heart of the company’ discussed the dynamics of research and developments for the creation of denim collections with innovative products and future vision. The importance of team work and sharing of information was also underscored for a company's development.

A second seminar titled ‘Pioneering Greenscreen® in the apparel industry’ highlighted the need for keeping environmental hazards in mind when washing denim goods. Asked about concerns of water and environmental pollution, business development manager of Bangladesh Denim Expo, Abu Haider Kabir, said the seminar highlighted the need for factories to go green and take measures to avoid pollution. He mentioned that one exhibitor, Living Blue, displayed a natural indigo colour, which is environmental friendly, and called for increased use of the product instead of using artificial colours. Kabir also pointed to the fact that some 100 liters of water are needed to wash one pair of jeans. Needless to say, this excessive use of water is harmful for the environment and may lead to the depletion of water ressources. He said that in recent years, some chemicals and equipment have been invented that help wash denim products using lower volumes of water. Such chemicals and equipment are displayed at the exposition and could attract local apparel factory owners. The seminars also suggested that factory owners harvest and use rain water for washing goods instead of costly sweet water on natural ground.

The seminar titled ‘Made in Bangladesh ­ a new reality ­Vision 2021’ was jointly organised by the BGMEA and Bangladesh Denim Expo. It covered present business and investment trends, global sourcing dynamics and Bangladesh's potential as well as challenges like infrastructure, ports, special economic zones, power, gas, human resources development, compliance issues, prudent commercial diplomacy and political stability. It also discussed supportive policies and coordination between different government agencies, product and market diversification, a holistic/national approach toward branding for Bangladesh and its denim industry and bringing all the critical stakeholders together at Bangladesh Denim Expo.

The discussion also focused on devising a strategic action plan to overcome the existing challenges and to realise the country's potential. It also argued whether Bangladesh would remain a niche sourcing option or if it holds greater potential for Bangladesh denim and jeans. But not everyone was full of praise ­ commerce minister Tofail Ahmed pointedly mentioned that the US did not contribute to the development of Bangladesh’s economy but rather interfered in internal politics. This was in reference to the US' suspension of GSP facilities for Bangladeshi goods entering its market in June 2013, citing serious shortcomings in labour rights and poor working conditions in Bangladeshi factories.

Ahmed also pointed to the fact that Bangladesh pays duty for 97 percent of its goods that enter the US market while the goods of many of its competitors from developing and least developed countries enter the US without paying duties as they enjoy duty­free facilities. He said that Bangladesh had fulfilled all the conditions set in the US Action Plan, which the country forwarded after the incidents at Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashions. “But despite the fulfilment of the conditions, the US did not withdraw the suspension on GSP facility for Bangladesh. The proposal for renewal of the scheme (which is now waiting for US Congress’s approval) did not even include Bangladesh among the 122 eligible countries of the scheme.”

The next edition of Bangladesh Denim Expo will be held on November 11­12 this year.

From our correspondent Syful Islam

Photos: Fashion show during Banglades Denim Expo
Mohanjit, Director and Niran P, Director, Atlantic Mills. (Apparel Resources)

Bangladesh Denim Expo