The global technical textile market is projected to grow from US $ 179.2 billion in 2020 to US $ 224.4 billion by 2025 with an annual average growth rate of about 4.2 per cent, underlined a study carried out by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) with the help of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
Established on 1st January 2011, through the merger of three German international development organizations namely – the Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst (DED), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) and Internationale Weiterbildung und Entwicklung (InWEnt) – the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH (English: German Corporation for International Cooperation GmbH), often shortened to simply GIZ, is a German development agency headquartered in Bonn and Eschborn which provides services in the field of international development cooperation and international education work even if GIZ’s main commissioning party is Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) while the other commissioners include European Union institutions, the United Nations, the private sector and Governments of other countries.
In its projects, GIZ works with partners in national Governments, actors from the private sector, civil society and research institutions.
It may be mentioned here that technical textiles is a high technology sunrise sector which is steadily gaining ground in many apparel manufacturing destinations even as technical textiles are functional fabrics that have applications across various industries including automobiles, civil engineering and construction, agriculture, healthcare, industrial safety, personal protection etc., while the technical textile products derive their demand from development and industrialisation in a country and given the large scale at which emerging nations are industrialising, the market for technical textiles can only be expected to grow in tandem with industrial growth in different parts of the world.
As textile products are manufactured for non-aesthetic purposes, in technical textile, functionality is the primary criterion even as technical textile materials are most widely used in filter clothing, furniture, hygiene medicals and construction materials currently even as mask and PPE are also considered technical textile products.
Considering Bangladesh’s repute and standing as the second biggest apparel exporter globally after China, one would expect Bangladesh’s share in the global technical textile market to be substantial.
However, as per the study, Feasibility Study on Upscaling the Production of TT/PPE in Bangladesh, carried out by GIZ with support from the BGMEA, the country (Bangladesh) is still in the early stage of technical textiles even if it has a huge potential to capture the markets of Europe and America.
Now, this gives rise to the question as to why Bangladesh is still found wanting when it comes to technical textiles.
“Most apparel manufacturers in Bangladesh tend to be medium-sized companies. Even large apparel groups are not known by international procurement agencies for TT/PPE products. The sourcing supply channel for medical PPE products is far more complex than that of apparel. Comprehensive details regarding performance, testing and certification requirements for the EU and the US are provided,” underlined the report while highlighting there are five main reasons behind Bangladesh’s not so satisfactory performance, which are: lack of awareness of market requirements; inadequate technical expertise; difficulty in sourcing high-performance raw materials; compliance and certification requirements and need for capital investment.
“If we can enter the market slowly but strongly, its presence will be sustainable. Thus, we will be able to gain a major foothold in the global market of technical textiles like in the readymade garment exports,” reportedly claimed Assistant Director at Snowtex Group, Tariqul Islam, speaking to the media even as entrepreneurs in the garment industry say that Bangladesh is still unable to export even 0.5 per cent of the demand in the world market when it comes to technical textiles while on the other hand Bangladesh’s share in the world market of readymade garments is more than 6 per cent while as per the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), in the last fiscal year 2020-21, Bangladesh exported PPEs and masks worth US $ 618 million to the world market, which is 23 per cent more than the previous year even if apart from this, the exact amount of other technical textiles exported is not known.
Meanwhile, according to the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), 155 of its member factories export masks and PPEs even as masks have been exported to 19 countries and PPEs to six countries.
While presenting the report, Charles Dagher, Consultant at GFA Consulting Group, mentioned a number of challenges why Bangladesh has remained behind in technical textile exports, which also include lack of collaboration within industry, low-international recognition as suitable TT/PPE sub-sector supplier, etc., even as he added uncontrolled unit costs and lead time are also negatively impacting sector competitiveness even if the report emphasised reaching out to buyers worldwide and building their confidence in Bangladesh as a supplier country of technical textile products.
Meanwhile, speaking to the media, BGMEA President Faruque Hassan reportedly maintained, “We think technical textile has a big market, so we now have started to produce it,” even as he pointed out the lack of prior experience of their industry while adding that Bangladeshi manufacturers had not produced technical textiles and PPE before the Coronavirus pandemic broke out while underlining that the GIZ’s study on this, now at final stage, will produce an actual scenario on Bangladesh’s position in producing technical textiles and PPE and where they are lacking. He also added that they are now moving for a reorientation.
“…we almost have no export of technical textiles to the world market. We just started after the advent of the Covid pandemic. Ensuring supply and order of raw materials is a big challenge to exporting technical textile products. It is not yet recognised worldwide that Bangladesh can export this product,” reportedly claimed further BGMEA Director Abdullah Hil Rakib interacting with the media even as BGMEA Vice-President Shahidullah Azim, on his part reportedly maintained, “From now on, we are encouraging the production of high-value or exceptional clothing outside the ordinary clothing. However, those who take such initiatives should get a special incentive from the Government,” even as the GIZ study also pointed to a way for Bangladesh to do well in exporting such products.
It also added that a complete strategy has to be adopted for first stage development, based on a limited number of products by a limited number of well-established technical apparel manufacturers in the greater Dhaka area who will act as a role model for TT/PPE cluster.
The study further reportedly added that during the first stage, factories will upgrade technology and implement lean manufacturing practices while the relevant departments will ensure suitable raw material procurement and quality production even as other departments will learn all the requirements for meeting testing and certification standards and once Bangladesh builds its reputation, confidence and reliability in this new product sector, it can gradually introduce more technology and advance to more diversified and sophisticated products offering greater profit margins.
“Even starting with a limited number of products, if they are done well, it will open the door to a host of other niche categories and products. Encouraged by the success of the early manufacturers, more companies will take the leap and the sub-sector will grow,” reportedly maintained the study while adding, “Europe is the current leader in imports of medical textiles but demand from North America is growing and is expected to grow further even as the world of technical textiles and their end-use products is endless and, once manufacturers have established reliable material supply, upgraded their operations and learnt the necessary testing and certifications procedures, there are huge opportunities in product diversifications.”
The sourcing supply channel for medical PPE is far more complex than that of apparel, stated the report even if comprehensive details regarding performance, testing and certification requirements for the EU and the US have been provided in the report, which added that since the Bangladesh technical textile and PPE supply chain is still in its earliest stage, it (the study) was unable to evaluate unit selling costs, manufacturing losses, order lead time, or the impact of current environmental and social standard practices.
In summary, the future of the TT/PPE sector lies in synergies and collaboration across the entire value chain, however, claimed the study to wind up on a positive note.