Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has demanded a separate ministry for apparel and textile industry for smooth growth of the sector, so vital for the country's economy.
It said a dedicated ministry is required to oversee the activities of the vast sector that fetches billions of dollars in export earnings and generates millions of employment at home.
Annisul Huq, the outgoing BGMEA president, told the reporters at a press conference in the city Tuesday that the largest foreign exchange earning sector deserves to have a separate ministry to protect its interest and ease export-import trade.
BGMEA also believes that Bangladesh and 13 other least developed nations across Asia might be able to get duty-free market access in the US for garment and other products as more and more Congressmen and Senators are lending their supports to the Bill, Tariff Relief Assistance for Developing Economies (TRADE) Act 2005.
Commerce Advisor Barkatullah Bulu led a BGMEA delegation last week to the US Capital Washington DC, to intensify official lobby for the passage of the Bill. The other beneficiary countries, such as Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and Cambodia also supported the Bill and expressed their solidarity in Washington DC.
"The biggest accomplishment for us this time is that we had got assurance from the Bush administration that it would not take any negative stance against the Bill," Huq noted.
Huq said the government officials, especially the Bangladesh Embassy in the US, have also been working hard to facilitate the Bill.
"Most probably we will be able to get the Bill passed in Congress and Senate during June or July next year," said Huq.
So far 21 Congressmen and Senators have endorsed and co-sponsored the Bill, he said adding that to make the chances bright for turning the Bill in to an Act, 30-35 lawmakers are required to co-sponsor it.
BGMEA described the recent US-China apparel pact crucial for Bangladesh as it might adversely affect Bangladesh's garment exports into the US market and said the government as well as the exporters should remain cautious about the future growth of apparel industry.
The apparel exporters believe the delegates who will join the Hong Kong WTO (World Trade Organisation) Ministerial Meeting next month, should support some of the US proposals to draw attention of the US Senators and Congressmen.
"Bangladesh should be careful, and support some US proposals so that Senators and Congressmen attending the meeting could have a positive impression about Bangladesh," Huq said.
The BGMEA leader argued that a separate ministry would expedite the paper works and save time and labour, and give special attention to textile and garment related problems.