Garment industry faces ordeal
THE ongoing blockade and shutdowns are crippling the economy, with the garment sector seemingly set to receive the hardest blow. According to a recent survey by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), the garment sector is counting a loss of Tk. 842.5 crore a day due to countrywide blockade or shutdown. Now garment makers are dreading a sharp decline in work orders from June as retailers are refusing to travel to Bangladesh amid arson attacks and other acts of mindless violence.
Some retailers who were supposed to travel to Bangladesh to place their June orders did not show up in January-February. And those who did placed only 50-60 percent of their regular orders, according to a senior official of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exports Association (BGMEA). Factory owners are worried that once foreign retailers start going to other countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia and India to do business, it will be difficult to bring them back.
That's bad news. Lately, international rating agency Fitch Ratings warned that renewed political tension and violence might affect foreign investors' confidence in Bangladesh, slowing economic growth in the long run.
The $25 billion RMG industry which has been built over a period of four decades through the dedication and hard work of entrepreneurs and employees is hurting. The government and the political parties must act fast to resolve the current political stalemate.