Apparel exporters based in Chattogram have called for improving ease of doing business by removing bureaucratic complexity to ensure quick delivery of export orders.
Mentioning that buyers in today's competitive markets want their goods delivered within a very short time, they said manufacturers in Bangladesh, however, require unreasonably longer lead time compared to other countries.
It takes about 40 days to send goods from Chattogram port to the United States, while exporters in China take 15 days to ship a product to the USA, they added at a views-exchange meeting with journalists on Saturday. The meeting was held at the BGME Regional Office in the port city.
In order to survive in the present extremely competitive market, the lead time in clothing export must be reduced, Syed Nazrul Islam, acting president of the BGMEA, told the event. To this end, factors contributing to the ease of doing business need to be simplified.
Elaborating on the problems faced by RMG manufacturers based in Chattogram, Syed Nazrul Islam said once there were 697 apparel factories in Chittagong, but 389 of them have been shut down.
Out of the remaining 308 factories, only 190 are engaged in import and export activities, he added.
"30 garment factories in Chattogram were closed in the period between March last year and August this year amid the coronavirus crisis."
A decade ago, Chattogram's share in the country's overall garment exports was 40%, which has now come down to 14% due to various infrastructural problems including a crisis of gas and electricity, Nazrul said.
In his written statement, the BGMEA acting president also mentioned that local exporters do not get a quick decision from banks in various cases, such as obtaining loans to expand investment or set up factories and increasing the limit for opening letters of credit for imports, since the principal branches of the banks are not situated in Chattogram.
He also stressed the need for simplifying the VAT collection process of the Customs Excise and VAT Commissionerate, easing the activities related to the Customs Bond Commissionerate, speeding up the release of imported goods through the Chattogram Customs House.
The apparel manufacturers also put forward nine proposals for the development of the garment industry. These proposals include setting up of garments villages or industrial areas, ensuring the investment-friendly role of banks, empowering government offices concerned, empowering the Chattogram office of the Bangladesh Bank to expedite the activities of the garment industry, and taking effective steps to develop infrastructure at the Chattogram port.
They also proposed increasing facilities at the Shah Amanat Airport and increasing the international connectivity of Biman.
They also wanted an uninterrupted supply of various utility services, the inclusion of services related to the operational activities of the port as "essential/ emergency services", and equal opportunities for domestic entrepreneurs like foreign investors in Mirsarai and Anwara economic zones.
BGMEA directors Mohammad Abdus Salam and Mohiuddin Chowdhury, former first vice-president Shahabuddin Ahmed, SM Abu Tayyab, Nasiruddin Chowdhury, Moinuddin Ahmed (Mintu) also spoke at the programme, among other business leaders.