Bangladesh becoming a hub for non-traditional garment products

Bangladesh becoming a hub for non-traditional garment products

Bangladesh has become a hub for technical and non-traditional garment products as international retailers are coming with an increasing number of work orders.

Bangladesh is the second largest garment exporter after China in woven and knitwear segments. Not only that, Bangladesh also supplies military uniforms, travel bags, backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, outdoor jackets, jute slippers and other jute goods.

“Currently, Bangladeshi factories, especially the ones in export processing zones, are performing well in export of non-traditional items,” an official of Chittagong EPZ said, asking not to be named.

Bangladeshi factories supply uniforms for the British army and French navy, the official said.

Apart from non-traditional and technical garments, some factories in Chittagong EPZ produce computer accessories for renowned brands, wigs, spectacles, frames and lens of spectacles, and selection buttons of vending machines used in Western countries, the official said.

“Very few people know that Bangladesh is the top exporter of army boots for some European nations. The boots are made in the factories housed in the EPZs of Chittagong,” the official said.

He said Bangladesh produces high-quality ski jackets. The export prices of ski jackets, produced in the Bangladeshi EPZ factories, range between $1,200 and $1,500 apiece, he said. Bangladeshi workers, especially the female ones, are producing all these items in the factories. The factory owners, mostly foreigners, train the workers for two to three months for producing the technical products, he said.

Mainly foreign investors are allowed in the EPZs to set up their factories. In recent years, many foreign investors established factories in the EPZs to produce technical and non-traditional garment items mainly due to higher cost of production in China.

The US and some European countries are the main export destinations for such non-traditional and technical items, said Shahid Ullah, general manager (commercial) of HKD, a Korean company based in Chittagong EPZ.

The company came to Bangladesh in 1991 and now runs three units in two EPZs in Chittagong. It exports tents worth more than $80 million a year, the factory manager told The Daily Star by phone.

He said Bangladesh exports more than $100 million worth of tents a year from different factories. “The prospects for these products are bright as international retailers are coming with a lot of work orders every year,” Shahid Ullah said.

Mashrul Anwar, commercial manager of Eusebio Sporting Bangladesh Ltd, a tent and sleeping bag manufacturer in Karnaphuli EPZ in Chittagong, said the demand for these non-traditional items is rising fast among Western customers.

“We are also adding value to these products,” he said.

Germany-based Commerzbank in a survey said the demand for technical and non-traditional textile items will rise 2 percent year-on-year in 2015.

In the period from 2007 to 2013, the European manufacturers of technical textiles saw stronger growth than the European economy as a whole, said the survey released last month.

Technical textiles are conquering more and more new application areas and are superseding conventional materials, the survey said.



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