Spanish retail giant Inditex, parent of the Zara fashion chain, has provided financial suppport to help Bangladeshi garment makers set up their own testing laboratory in Dhaka.

The move means apparel exporters will no longer have to collect certificates from foreign companies.

Apparel exporters currently use foreign firms to test the garments. However, the laboratory will allow exporters to complete 22 chemical tests on apparel items for certification, according to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

Operations are expected to start in January. BGMEA president Shafiul Islam said a "good portion" of the laboratory's earnings will be spent on the welfare of the workers.

Switzerland-based pre-shipment company SGS is providing technical support - and around US$1m has been invested into the laboratory so far.