Brands and buyers should be more responsible to do ethical buying practices to make businesses sustainable, said speakers at a webinar Monday.
They also advocated for mandatory government endorsement for future apparel contacts so that the textile suppliers and workers could resort to multilateral resolution if any brand declared itself bankrupt amid the virus fallout.
The webinar on Covid-19 fallout assessment on Bangladeshi ready-made sector – jointly organized by the France Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIFB) and the Policy Research Institute (PRI) of Bangladesh – made the proposal.
PRI Executive Director Dr Ahsan H Mansur was the keynote speaker, moderator and chair of the programme while Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and Bangladesh Ambassador in France Kazi Imtiaz Hossain present were also present.
At the programme, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Rubana Huq said that two French buyers Qamayu and Lahal had cancelled all orders in Bangladesh. However, other brands including Cellio were coming to negotiation gradually.
Rubana said they were working with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh (ICAB) on ways of revising the contracts. She said the Bangladeshi exporters need to get back their position, but getting it back was not easy unless there was a fair purchasing practice in place.
The BGMEA president said the buyers must understand a proper synchronization between sustainability and sourcing.
"What they [buyers] have done to us during the Covid-19 pandemic is unimaginable and it has been apocalyptic," added the BGMEA president.
She said the Bangladesh mission in France was the apparel manufacturers in finding a lawyer to resolve the cancelled contracts.
She added, "I think enforcing a contract and standardizing it for Bangladesh is absolutely a necessity at this point."
Andalib Elias, director general, West Europe and EU Wing, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Dilara Begum, commercial counselor, Bangladesh Embassy in Paris, France also spoke at the event.
Ahsan H Mansur said the EU markets remain open for Bangladesh as they recover from Covid-19 while the USA market opens partly. But the demand of apparel may have shifted in both markets.
He suggests diversifying products as the country mainly exports five items those contribute to about 73 percent of the total export.
Dr Ahsan H Mansur said Bangladesh needs to develop a strong backward linkage industry to reduce the lead time – the time between the initiation and completion of a production process.
"The Covid-19 pandemic is not the main challenge for us, rather we need to address some fundamental issues as we have not done any future agreements with our partners like japan and EU," said Dr Mansur.