The COVID-19 pandemic opened up a new horizon of opportunity. Previously Bangladesh RMG manufacturers mostly produced cotton-based basic garments, where the profit margin was very nominal.
“Since we are mostly dependent on few items and basic goods, going on massive products will help to diversify goods,” Centre for Policy Dialogue research director Khondaker Golam Moaqzzem told Textile Today.
Though the demands will depend on the COVID-19 situation apparently, the demands of PPE including protective masks, gloves, clothing gowns for doctors and nurses, goggles, and other garments will always remain for medical use, he explained.
However, setting up a functional protective manufacturing requires higher investment.
Manufacturing and arranging the rapid supply of disposable PPE in a huge quantity is not so easy task. Such a high technically augmented product is obviously costly with total project investment cost – depends on fabric width, production capacity, machine brand, etc. –around USD 1.5 million to 4 million as per the capacity.
Safiul Islam Mohiuddin, former President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries said, “Four countries have already sent their demand letters to Bangladesh for sourcing high-quality PPE. But our textile mills can only manufacture the chemical resistant clothing (level 1/2) right now.”
The PPE, which will be exported, are made of other fabrics and raw material, he added.
Local manufacturers have already sought the World Health Organization’s technical collaboration for meeting the standard of professional and medical PPE, said Navidul Huq, a Director of Niche Stitch Ltd.
Presently, no factory in Bangladesh has a dust-free and medical-grade environment, which is a must for producing professional and medical grade PPE (level 3/4).
“With proper training and expertise, we can make and export it worldwide,” he mentioned.
Bangladesh ranks in the near bottom when it comes to ease of doing business – port clearance, customs and other issues are seriously poor and lengthy.
Mohammad Hatem, Vice President, BKMEA and MD of MB Knit Fashion Ltd. said, “We need a loan with low-interest rate from banks.”
Garment manufacturers should be given at least 6 months to 12 months break to bounce back. So the duck can lay golden eggs, said, industry experts.
He urged the government and the sector people to come up with initiatives to develop technical expertise as well as special attention on new areas of exploration.