Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) a recognised trade body that represents export oriented garment manufacturers and garment exporters of the country. Starting in the late 1970s as a negligible non-traditional sector with a narrow export-base, the Readymade garment industry emerged as a promising foreign exchange earning sector of the country by the year 1983. Since then, this sector has been acclaimed as the thrust sector of Bangladesh economy. BGMEA had only 12 members at the time of its inception in 1977. It promotes and protects the greater interest of the garment sector of Bangladesh and its members, the number of which was about 3200 in July 2000.

BGMEA is dedicated to establishing and promoting contacts with foreign buyers, business and trade associations, chambers and research organisations to develop the export base of apparels. It also promotes trade negotiations in international market. The fundamental objective of BGMEA is to establish a healthy business environment for a close and mutually beneficial relationship between manufacturers, exporters and importers, thereby ensuring steady growth in the foreign exchange earnings of the country. The organisation is run by a 27-member board of directors elected for a tenure of one year. The board is headed by a president who is assisted by four vice presidents and a qualified team of officials.

Regular activities of BGMEA include sending members for participation in apparel fairs at home and abroad; establishment and promotion of contacts with foreign buyers, business associations and chambers; and collection of information on various aspects of the garment industry and their dissemination to members, apparel buyers and other users. BGMEA helps garment manufacturers in disposal of stock-lots, suggests ways for proper utilisation of fabrics, yarn, acrylic, wool etc., and in adoption of safety measures in order to avert fire accidents in factories. BGMEA helps the government in textile quota negotiations with USA and Canada and monitors implementation of MOU on elimination of child labour in the country's garment sector. It monitors activities relating to issuing utilisation declaration (U/D), export orders for clearance of raw materials imported by member-factories, and inter-bond sub-contract of bonded warehouse goods. It also provides education support to displaced workers below the age of 14 and co-sponsors welfare programmes for garment workers in broader areas of primary healthcare, transportation, social security and insurance coverage, housing and skill training.

In the context of possible economic threats for Bangladesh associated with new trends in globalisation of trade, investment, finance and production, BGMEA has identified key areas that will impact on future developments in the garment sector. Core issues include human rights, and code of conduct in the work place and environment. BGMEA plans to launch a programme for SA8000/WRAP compliance by all its member units within a fixed time frame so that all of them are ready to face new challenges of liberalisation and globalisation. [Md Tuhin Molla]