By Sumi Khan
Dhaka, July 3 | The Walt Disney Company has decided to reinstate its production of branded merchandise in Bangladesh after more than eight years of pulling out of factories in the country, said apparel industry leaders. Welcoming the decision, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) hoped to attract orders of more than $500 million in future.
It had announced that the company would consider permitting production in Bangladesh in future, if factories agree to partner with the Better Work programme, Faruque Hassan, BGMEA president, told IANS on Friday.
The RMG team warmly welcomed the timely move by Walt Disney in recognition of the all-out progress and transformation in the industry, particularly in areas of workplace safety, social standards, and environmental sustainability.
The factories of the country participating in the ILO’s Better Work Bangladesh the program will be entitled to become a vendor, while they need to participate in NiIRAPON, an alliance of 23 foreign RMG brands and RMG Sustainability Council (RSC) along with specific remediation fulfillment criteria.
Hassan said: “It’s big news and good news indeed for Bangladesh… the Walt Disney has decided to reinstate its production of branded merchandise in Bangladesh after more than eight years and reincluded Bangladesh in the list of their Permitted Sourcing Country with International Labour Standard audits.”
Faruque said that, Walt Disney, stopped its production activities in Bangladeshi factories in May 2013 following the fire at Tazreen Fashion in November 2012 that killed 112 RMG workers, and later, the Rana Plaza Building collapse which killed more than 1,100 people, mostly readymade garment workers.
Then the Walt Disney Company sent a letter in March 2013 to vendors and licensees to transition production in Bangladesh in order to reinforce safety standards in its supply chain and around $500 million worth of business was shifted to Vietnam, India, and Myanmar from Bangladesh.
Now, it has announced to reinstate Bangladesh as a permitted sourcing country list with ILS (International Labor Standard) audits. It is the recognition of the all-out progress and transformation in the industry, particularly in the area of workplace safety, social standards, and environmental sustainability, Faruque mentioned.
The Hong Kong-based supply chain compliance solutions provider “QIMA” ranked Bangladesh as the 2nd highest Ethical Manufacturing country in its recent report “QIMA Q1 2021 Barometer”. The rating included a performance against parameters like hygiene, health and safety, child and young labor, labor practices including forced labour, worker representation, disciplinary practices and discrimination, working hours and wages, and waste management.
The study was conducted at a time when Covid disrupted the global fashion industry and supply chain, and maintaining such a level of compliance testifies our resilience and commitment.
In addition, the progress made in the areas of cleaner and greener manufacturing testifies the industry’s commitment and actions toward building a sustainable supply chain.
Through these actions and transformation, Bangladesh has well positioned itself as the preferred sourcing partner for conscious brands like Disney, which is committed to fostering safe, inclusive, and respectful workplaces in its manufacturing facilities worldwide.
Bangladesh being the home of the world’s most LEED green factories, having 144 LEED green factories certified by USGBC, of which 41 are platinum, earn the confidence of the global brands and consumers through its tireless efforts in the past decade.
Faruque mentioned the entire safety transformation program is supported and facilitated by the government, ILO, international brands, manufacturers, and global unions in a transparent manner.
BGMEA, as the only association in the world is honoured with the “2021 USGBC Leadership Award” for its exemplary leadership in promoting environmental sustainability and green industrialization in the RMG industry.
Bangladesh’s RMG industry has made unprecedented efforts and investments to ensure the safety covering fire, electrical and structural integrity and a robust follow up of factory remediation to create a culture of safety while promoting the well-being of the workers, mentioned the BGMEA president while talking to IANS.
“With the reinstatement of Bangladesh as a permitted souring country, we will be able to attract orders of more than $500 million,” the BGMEA president hoped.