German Ambassador Thomas Prinz has said Bangladesh is a reliable source of high-quality garment for his country.
“We are happy that Bangladesh is a reliable source of high-quality garment for Germany,” he said at a press conference at the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association headquarters in Dhaka yesterday.
The BGMEA held the press meet to announce the BGMEA-BUFT Journalism Fellowship-2014, under which three winners and a group of journalists will attend a training programme on business journalism in Germany at the end of this month.
Germany is the second largest single export destination for Bangladesh's garment products after the US, accounting for $4.33 billion in fiscal 2014-15, according to the Export Promotion Bureau.
Prinz said Germany will support Bangladesh in its aim to double its apparel exports.
“We are cooperating with Bangladesh in many fields. We want to support Bangladesh in its endeavour to become a sustainable, compliant, social and profitable garment sector. There is a need for mutual understanding.”
He said the people in Germany are not abreast with the latest developments in Bangladesh's garment sector with regards to workplace safety and labour rights.
“The Rana Plaza incident is still fresh in their minds, even though it has been three years since the accident. A lot has been done in the sector since.”
He cited the emerging trend of green garment factories in Bangladesh as one of the positive developments that the journalists should highlight during their visit to Germany.
“The journalists must provide information on what's going on in Bangladesh.”
Prinz also urged them to report back on the constraints of the German retailers on issues such as the fair price.
“We do not even find fair prices for products that are produced in Germany -- there is a lot of competition between the brands. So, there are constraints and the journalists have to report on that,” he said.
In Germany, a top-selling T-shirt or jeans are selling at low prices, according to Prinz.
He however said the real value of the work on those products that are made in Bangladesh and sold in Germany should not be so low.
“But how can we change the consumers' behaviour? It is extremely difficult.”
Prinz said Bangladesh should learn about the German way of solving labour disputes and conflict, as they have a long tradition for finding amicable solutions in any industrial conflict.
Jochen Weikert, programme coordinator of the German government's Promotion of Social and Environmental Standards in the Industry, BGMEA President Siddiqur Rahman and Vice-President Faruque Hassan also spoke.b