Bangladesh is travelling fast to become the world’s leading garments exporter in a decade exceeding China which is shifting its focus from low-end manufacturing to heavy industries. The country had been reeling under persistent political and economic crises since its separation from Pakistan, vindicating Islamabad of the blame of its economic exploitation. However, the new government of that country changed the shape of the economy in three years and is now emerging as the second largest apparel exporter in the world, second only to China. Most of its exports of over $28 billion consist of western apparel brands with thousands of factories and millions of workforce acting as the engine of growth. The country is planning to raise the export target of ready-made garments up to 50 billion by 2021. Keeping in view the current rate of growth, it is achievable. China is also planning to shift a number of its industries, including garments and textiles, to Bangladesh by setting up factories in a special economic zone. It shows a glaring fact how China is practically helping that country to overcome its economic woes. The world market of apparel products is $450 billion and China has lion share of 39.26 percent in it. Bangladesh’s share is 5.9 percent.
Another country emerging as a big player in the international market is Vietnam which has over 6,000 enterprises and over 2.5 million labourers in this sector. The country exported textile goods and apparels worth $27 billion in 2015 and is likely to reach $29 this year. Pakistan’s current textile exports hover around $10.395 billion despite the fact that textile is regarded as the backbone of the country’s economy. Pakistan was given GSP plus status or Generalized System of Preferences by European Union. However, the textile potential of the country could not be fully utilized and that is the reason it is lagging behind Bangladesh and Vietnam.
It is unfortunate that the policymakers could not give direction to the economy and the sectors which can act as the engines of growth are ignored. The government must persuade the Chinese government to set up its small industrial units along the economic corridor which has gone to operational mode. Earlier, Japan had shifted its small industrial units to Malaysia, picking up the latter’s industry to the new pinnacles. Now it is the chance for Pakistan to invite the small Chinese entrepreneurs to establish their units in Pakistan instead of Bangladesh as our geographical location is far better than that country. Pakistan is passing through political crisis and it is the main hurdle in the decision-making process.