Bangladesh's first ever textile exposition opened yesterday with a seminar on the impact of 2005, the Independent reported.

TexBangla 2001, which was opened by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, was organised by the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) and Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD). BTMA Chairman Salman F Rahman chaired the opening seminar.

The seminar focused on how the Bangladeshi textile industry must change to claim a stake in the global marketplace.

Participants agreed that more investment was essential - the $0.5bn invested so far by entrepreneurs was not sufficient. At least $3bn was needed to upgrade machinery and improve utilities.

BGMEA president Eng Kutubuddin said that the failure to provide utility services had only delayed the commissioning of new industrial units. Former BTMA chairman Salahuddin Kashem Khan, argued that the government should make land available and improve infrastructure so that textile mills could be set up.

Participants also said that the high interest rate must be reduced, labour productivity increased and more emphasis put on producing high-end goods. Problems with customs and port functioning also needed to be addressed, they said.

However, as several participants pointed out, the industry could not take off until the infrastructure was in place and the political situation was peaceful.

Salman F Rahman, vice chairman of BEXIMCO, Bangladesh's number one textile company, said: "Bangladesh is now a major textile producing country. Efforts should be directed now to make it a major source of quality products for international buyers."