The BGMEA has asked the IMF to support the development of Bangladesh’s ready-made garment sector, given its pivotal role in the country’s economy.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Bangladesh’s dollar reserves have fallen by more than a third, according to Reuters and the country had previously secured a loan of US$4.7bn from the IMF.

IMF’s mission chief for Bangladesh Rahul Anand was in attendance at the meeting, along with BGMEA president Faruque Hassan with several other key representatives from the IMF and BGMEA were also present.

The two groups discussed the current challenges for Bangladesh’s apparel sector, including the country’s graduation from the United Nation’s least developed countries (LDC) list.

Bangladesh is currently expected to graduate from the LDC list in 2024 and attendees at the meeting emphasised how important it is that the sector is ready for this change.

BGMEA’s Hassan told the IMF that Bangladesh’s garment sector had made “impressive strides” in sustainability in recent years, including recycling and circular economy.

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The BGMEA also explained how the sector has been working towards its Sustainability Strategic Vision 2030 and how the country’s apparel sector is focusing on diversifying its range to include value-added items including non-cotton products.

According to local reports, the IMF also asked the delegation if recent devaluation of Bangladesh’s currency, which has fallen 28% against the US dollar this year, has given the country a competitive edge against rivals.

The IMF is also said to have asked why some exports from Bangladesh do not see proceeds arrive until much later. Hassan reportedly told delegates that international retailers and brands can be late with payments, particularly after the pandemic.

In August, the BGMEA said that innovation along with responsible and sustainable business practices are the driving factors behind the growing popularity of Made in Bangladesh garments.