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I will not come in politics, I will stay in economy: BGMEA president

As a developing country, doing business requires policy support from the government, which is why business people sometimes get involved in politics. BGMEA President Farooq Hasan has made such a comment.

Farooq Hasan made the remarks in response to a question from a media worker on why political security is needed to do business in Bangladesh at the ERF Dialogue held at the Economic Reporters Forum in the capital’s Paltan on Wednesday (January 5th).

At this time, he introduced himself as a man of economics and said that he wanted to be in economics and not politics.

Faruk Hasan, president of BGMEA, an association of garment manufacturers and exporters, said they were not worried about Bangladesh being dropped from the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) list. This is because the BGMEA has already started working with the government and the buyer countries to address the post-LDC transition challenges. Various initiatives are being taken to enhance competitiveness through skill development, increased investment, product and market diversification. As a result, there is no doubt about the survival of garments made in Bangladesh in the world market without quota and duty free facilities.

The dialogue was conducted by SM Rashidul Islam, general secretary of the organization. Shafiqul Alam, vice president of the organization and bureau chief of the news agency AFP, was present at the time.

Farooq Hasan said that at present their strategy is to prepare for the transition from LDC, that is, to take advantage of the international market by 2026. In addition, the European Union (EU) will extend the opportunity to export through tariff and quota-free facilities for an additional three years after 2026, through negotiations.

BGMEA wants this benefit from the EU for 10 years. BGMEA will then discuss GSP Plus with the EU. However, garment owners want the government to sign free and preferential trade agreements with other countries during this period.

He further said that BGMEA has always worked for the development of the entire sector and is still doing so. All those who have led this organization have contributed to the development of the garment industry.

He is trying to be like his successors. He said various charges and fees have been reduced to help SMEs in the garment sector cope with the effects of corona. Market and product diversification is underway to meet the challenges ahead and harness the potential. Initiatives have been taken to make more synthetic fabrics in the country. Research has been intensified for overall development. In a word, efforts are being made to make the role of BGMA forward.

After the introductory speech, the journalists present to the BGMEA President asked various questions about the problems, possibilities, corona and domestic and international political impact of this sector.

In response to a question about GSP in the US market, he said that garments made in this largest market would not get GSP facility. Still not getting it. However, the conditions imposed by the United States have been implemented by the garment owners and the government.

Entrepreneurs in this country have invested heavily to ensure a safe working environment. There are 153 green factories in the country. That means traders have done their job. Now it is up to the United States to decide whether or not to pay GSP.

He said that not only implementation of conditions but also politics is involved with giving GSP facility to the country. However, Bangladesh’s exports to the United States have increased. It is expected to increase further in the future.

Asked if the US sanctions would affect business in Bangladesh and some of its officials, he said traders were concerned about the sanctions. But they are doing the work of traders. We do not want to lose any market.

In response to another question about Bangladesh’s cool relations with Myanmar, US sanctions on RAB and some RAB officials, and national elections at the end of next year, the BGMEA president said the next elections are important.

The expectation from political parties as traders is that production and supply of goods in the factory is disrupted, so that they do not take any action. There has to be an environment where everything can go normally.

In response to another question, he said, “I don’t think it takes political blessings to do business.”

In response to another question, the BGMEA president said that the bond licenses of many businesses were taken 20 to 30 years ago. Bangladesh is now producing different and improved products from the kind of products it used to make three decades ago. As a result, many products are not mentioned in the old bond licenses. But the licensed factory needs new products. He said that although it is not mentioned in the license, it is in the Practical Declaration (UD).

However, the customs authorities often do not release the goods. This is hampering business. He said a meeting would be held with the Board of Revenue next week.

In this context, he said, many complain that traders are not going to new markets, products, designs. But where is the opportunity to go. Traders have to run after many complexities like customs. As a result, if such regulations are simplified, business will be easier.

Regarding the incentive loan repayment to deal with the impact of corona, he said many factories have already started giving loan installments.

Regarding the reasons for the recent increase in exports, the President said that the increase was mainly due to the increase in import prices. Apart from this, the country’s exporters have made many demands of the buyers during the Corona period. Especially after delivery, late payment, discounts etc. have been provided. That is why exporters have a good relationship with buyers. As a result, buyers are now taking their surplus products from Bangladesh.

Apart from this, other expenses including travel of people have been reduced due to Corona. As a result, westerners are spending their money on other sectors to buy clothes. Although the overall price of garments increased slightly, the cutting and making charges did not increase.

The number of actual garment exporters and workers will be revealed within the next three months. BGMEA is in a strong position regarding sub-contact. He said that it will be in the future as well.

As the reason said, they do not want to repeat events like Tazreen fashion. Of course there will be a sub-contract, but it is between the company that produces the product of the same buyer and subject to the consent of the buyer. The president of BGMEA demanded a rule to make it compulsory to be a member to ensure control and state benefits of factories which are not members of BGMEA or BKMEA.

Besides, efforts are being made to shift the garment factories from Dhaka, Narayanganj and Chittagong to the district level. Skilled workers are being developed for this.

Besides, the BGMEA president demanded that the factories which were closed due to political unrest be exempted from bank loans.

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