As per a Memorandum of Understanding signed on 10 March, the AAFA will support Bangladesh in promoting its trade interests in the US market, especially advocating for the withdrawal of GSP suspension to recognise the progress made in the local industry in the area of workplace safety, workers well-being and environmental sustainability. 

They will also work collaboratively on capacity building to cut time and cost, to make supply chain more sustainable, via developing joint programs to train workers and mid/top management, and a special collaboration with BGMEA Center for Innovation, Efficiency & OSH, and a collaborative arrangement between the Parties and BGMEA University of Fashion & Technology (BUFT). 

The two associations will inspire buyers-supplier collaboration to upscale product development and innovation capability to explore untapped segments of the export market, via joint research, coaching programs, sharing of knowledge and information like fashion trend analysis and forecasting, matchmaking events, media campaign, etc. 

They will also work on creating joint scoping missions to explore bilateral investment opportunities, particularly in backward linkage textile industries in Bangladesh, especially in the non-cotton segment. 

AAFA and BGMEA will collaborate to deepen discussion towards a unified code of conduct, or unified approach, like symphonisation, for social and environmental audits in manufacturing facilities, via setting up of a Joint Committee with clear terms of engagement. 

They will also set up a corporate alliance on CSR initiatives to ensure well-being of the workers and communities.

“Together, we aim to unlock the potential of Bangladesh’s RMG sector by enhancing competitiveness through building capacities and embracing innovations and technologies, and facilitating trade access to the US market. We also aim to develop joint programs that train workers and mid- and top- management, explore new CSR initiatives to support the well-being of the workers and communities, and more,” said BGMEA President Faruque Hassan. 

“AAFA’s comprehensive work ensures the continued success and growth of the global apparel and footwear industry, its suppliers, and its customers. With this in mind, agreements with strategic partners around the world help reduce trade barriers, encourage sharing of ESG best practices, and promote innovation on behalf of our members,” said AAFA President and CEO Steve Lamar. “Today’s collaboration marks increased capacity building to support joint practices and trainings to advance supply chain sustainability, expand trade opportunities, improve the buyer-supplier partnership.”

Bangladesh is the third-largest apparel supplier to the US with an 8.84% share of the US apparel import market in 2021.