The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has renewed its call for the government to set up a dedicated ministry for the ready-made garment (RMG) industry.

Speaking at a roundtable discussion in Dhaka, BGMEA president Atiqul Islam said poor infrastructure was the main challenge to export growth, with goods taking about one day to transport from Gazipur or Narayanganj to the port at Chittagong.

“We eye on taking Bangladesh’s apparel exports to US$50bn by 2021, but we have some challenges on our road to achieving the export target,” he added.

Sustainable growth would result from addressing issues such as forward linkage, skilled human resources, bureaucratic hurdles, gas and power shortages, and high bank interest rates, Islam said.

Meanwhile, Abdus Salam Murshedy, a former BGMEA president and MD at Envoy Group, told the meeting that Bangladesh was now facing competitive challenges from the likes of Vietnam and Cambodia.

“Our products have become less competitive after we ensured safety and compliance in line with the labour law and raised workers’ wages,” he said. “This is now our main challenge.”