In the last 15 years, Bangladesh has emerged as a major hub for manufacturing accessories and packaging materials. The country has a market worth $160 million for buttons and supplies around 90 per cent of locally-made buttons to the industry. Not just buttons, Bangladesh also makes around 30 other garment and packaging accessories such as poly bags, hangers, zippers, buttons, cartons and packaging materials.
However, as per a Daily Star report, the scenario was different in the 1980s when garment manufacturers relied on imports as they were not self-reliant or produced accessories domestically. They had to import used cartons and make them reusable by cutting them manually in order to make them fit to carry export-oriented items.
Imports would cause shipping delays
Fifteen years ago also, local manufacturers used to buy buttons from China and Hong Kong to make the final garments for international clients. This would often lead delay in shipping goods to retailers and brands in Europe and the US. To cover up the delays, manufacturers had to offer big discounts or faced order cancellations.
The situation improved after 1990 as local accessories makers set up factories. In the last 15 years, Bangladesh entrepreneurs have built a Tk 40,000 crore garment accessories and packaging industry for serving the needs of the country's gigantic apparel industry. This has also helped them create local jobs and boost forex reserves.
Shortening lead times for exporters
Another benefit for exporters has been the shortening of lead times as they can now procure accessories and cartons directly from local markets. This reduces their waiting otherwise needed in case of imports. Accessory makers are supplying not only to the garment industry but also to pharmaceuticals, home textile and leather sectors, says Al Shahriar Ahmed, Director, Bangladesh Garments Accessories & Packaging Manufacturers &Exporters Association. The sector is growing in tandem with the growth of garment industry.
Accessory makers can supply nearly 90 per cent of locally made products to the industry although the production process is complex, explains Abdul Kader Khan, Managing Director, Khan Accessories & Packaging Company, a Tongi-based accessories company. However, exporters still need to import the remaining 10 per cent accessories that are of specialized kind, he adds.
Exports on the rise
Most accessory manufacturers in Bangladesh like Montrims also export their products to other garment producing countries such as Pakistan, Vietnam, and Cambodia. The total volume of exports is around $500 million. A local garment accessories maker and a concern of Mondol Group, Montrims has exported accessories to a few European countries as well. Annually it exports around $60 million worth accessories. Experts point out, Bangladesh has a huge potential to grow garment accessories business as China is no longer involved in this space. This is shifting a lot of work orders from China to Bangladesh.