The $180 billion technical textile market still eludes Bangladesh

The current size of the global technical textiles market is around $180 billion, but Bangladesh has yet to tap into this huge potential.

There are five main reasons for this: lack of knowledge of market requirements, insufficient technical expertise, difficulty in sourcing high-performance raw materials, compliance and certification requirements and the need for capital investment.

A recent study provided such information. According to the study, Bangladesh, still at the early stage of technical textiles, has enormous potential to conquer the markets of Europe and America, major buyers of this product.

The study, titled “Feasibility study on scaling up production of technical textiles (TT) including personal protective equipment (PPE) in Bangladesh,” was conducted by German company Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit ( gizz). The study will be released on Tuesday jointly with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

Technical textile is a textile product produced for non-aesthetic purposes, where functionality is the main criterion. Currently, technical textile materials are most widely used in filter clothing, furniture, medical hygiene products and building materials. Masks and PPE are also technical textile products.

“Most garment manufacturers in Bangladesh tend to be medium-sized companies. Even large garment groups are not known to international sourcing agencies for TT/PPE products. Medical PPE is much more complex than that of clothing. Full details regarding performance, testing and certification requirements for the EU and US are provided,” the report states.

The technical textiles market is expected to reach $224.4 billion by 2025 at an average annual growth rate of 4.2%. Meanwhile, the global PPE market is expected to surpass $93 billion by the end of 2025.

According to the Export Promotion Board (EPB), in the last fiscal year 2020-21, Bangladesh exported $618 million worth of PPE and masks to the global market, 23% more than the country. ‘last year. Apart from this, the exact amount of other technical textiles exported is not known.

However, garment industry entrepreneurs say that Bangladesh is still unable to export even 0.5% of the global market demand. But Bangladesh’s share of the global ready-to-wear market is over 6%.

According to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), an association of owners in the garment industry, 155 of its members export masks and PPE. Masks have been exported to 19 countries and PPE to six countries.

The study cited the complexity of raw material sourcing and testing or certification standards as one of the reasons for Bangladesh lagging behind in technical textiles exports.

BGMEA Director Abdullah Hil Rakib told The Business Standard that we export almost no technical textiles to the global market. We have just started after the advent of the Covid pandemic.

Ensuring the supply and ordering of raw materials is a major challenge for the export of technical textile products. It is not yet recognized worldwide that Bangladesh can export this product, he added.

However, Rakib continued, we have started to get international certification for some PPE. So there are possibilities in the future. Even if we could capture 10% of the market, our total apparel exports would exceed $50 billion.

Shahidullah Azim, Vice President of BGMEA, told TBS: “From now on, we encourage the production of high-value or exceptional garments apart from ordinary garments. However, those who take such initiatives should receive a special incentive. of the government”.

The study also indicated a way for Bangladesh to be successful in exporting these products. He said a comprehensive strategy must be adopted for the development of the first stage, based on a limited number of products by a limited number of well-established technical clothing manufacturers in the greater Dhaka region who will act as a model TT cluster. /EPP.

It all starts small and once a solid foundation is built, the sub-sector can count on increased demand to boost product diversification in a second step, he said.

The study indicates that during the first stage, factories will upgrade technology and implement lean manufacturing practices. Relevant departments will ensure adequate supply of raw materials and quality production. Other departments will learn all the requirements to meet testing and certification standards. Once Bangladesh builds its reputation, trust and reliability in this new product sector, it can gradually introduce more technology and evolve into more diverse and sophisticated products with higher profit margins.

“Even starting with a limited number of products, if done right, will open the door to a host of other niche categories and products. Encouraged by the success of early manufacturers, more companies will take the plunge and the subsector will grow.

“Europe is currently the leader in imports of medical textiles, but demand from North America is growing and is expected to grow further. The world of technical textiles and their end-use products is endless.

“Once manufacturers have established a reliable supply of materials, upgraded their operations, and learned the necessary testing and certification procedures, there are huge opportunities for product diversification,” the report said.

Bangladesh also benefits from the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme which allows duty-free imports.

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