Falling prices ruffle garment exporters
Monday, 30 June 2008

The garment exporters have asked international buyers to hike prices of readymade garments, BKMEA president Fazlul Hoque said Saturday, reports bdnews24.com

Steering committee members of the Multi Fibre Bangladesh made the demand at the two-day conference of Multi Fibre Arrangement Forum at the Westin in Dhaka.

Donor countries, agencies and buyers formed the MFA in 2004 in order to help the garment exporting countries affected by the withdrawal of quota system.

Hoque, also co-chairman of MFB steering committee, at a press briefing said prices of Bangladeshi garments dropped alarmingly on global markets in recent times.

"The shirt we sold at $10 one year ago now costs $ 8.5," he said.

Besides, the price of raw materials necessary for readymade garments also fell by 15 percent, he reasoned.

According to a review of the Export Promotion Bureau, the government's export wing, garments export in the first 10 months of fiscal 2007-08 rose but price index went down by 1.5 percent.

Paul Dearman, a representative from the British firm Tesco, joint secretary of the commerce ministry Mostafa Mohiuddin and Foysal Samad, director of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) were present at the press briefing.

"According to BGMEA and BKMEA statistics, prices of readymade garments fell by up to 16 percent in last one and half years. In this situation, we made a demand to the buyers to increase the price," Hoque said.

He said the buyers said nothing about the demand but added that the issue would get emphasis at the Dhaka declaration the conference is set to adopt.

Dearman told reporters that Bangladeshi exporters needed to enhance their bargaining power with the buyers.

He said he would inform a related forum about the exporters' proposal.

Hoque said: "Buyers often criticise us for issues such as compliance, workers rights and quality of goods. We've improved the quality, increased workers wages and spent more on other sectors. But they were not flexible about prices."

Karmajibi Nari, the Federation of Garments Workers and representatives of garment workers were present at the second session of the conference.

They demanded withdrawal of the ban on trade union activities under the state of emergency.

The first conference of the MFA Forum was held in London in Sep 2006.

Hoque said Bangladesh proved it wrong that withdrawal of quota system would jeopardise the local garment industry.

"We don't have any problem with quota. Our main problem is the low prices of our products. We are waiting to see what steps MFA Forum takes to [address the issue]," Hoque said.

Representatives from garments importers including Wal-Mart, Tesco, Levi Strauss and Khan Lucas Lancaster are taking part in the conference.

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