Bangladeshi garment makers received one of the lowest prices in the world last year due to a lack of value-added apparel items, lack of negotiation skills, and image crisis.
Among the garment trading nations in the world, Bangladeshi garment items were paid $2.79 per unit or per square metre equivalent (SME) in the US market in 2018, according to data from the Office of the Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) in the US.
Chinese and Ethiopian exporters were paid lesser: $2.35 and $2.45 per SME respectively.
The Turkish exporters were paid the highest: $7.38 per SME.
Per SME from Malaysia fetched $5.37, Laos $4.98, Indonesia $3.81, Myanmar $3.08, Vietnam $3.28, and Thailand $2.88.
Bangladesh has not been receiving high prices because the local exporters are mainly competing in some particular items like woven shirts and bottoms that have many competitors, said Sharif Zahir, director of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
“The buyers have alternatives, so they do not want to pay high prices.”
However, a few new competitors like Myanmar and Ethiopia are managing better prices than Bangladesh although they are far beyond in compliance, he said.
“Here, the image crisis of Bangladesh is a major challenge. The buyers do not want to pay because of our image crisis after the Rana Plaza building collapse.”
Although the minimum wages of many garment producing countries are below Bangladesh’s, they are still receiving better prices, he said.
“We are working to brighten the image of the country as we have been following compliance strictly and strengthening workplace safety,” said Zahir, also the managing director of Ananta Denim.
Bangladesh needs two particular improvements at this moment: improving its rankings in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index and manufacturing value-added garment items.
Only 20 percent of the exports now are value-added garment items.
“Bangladesh will get more prices if it manufactures outwear, dresses and jackets,” Zahir said.
The efficiency level of workers needs to be enhanced too: it is nearly 50 percent whereas in other countries it is 80 percent, he said.