Textiles The history of power driven modern textiles in Bengal dates back to the beginning of the twentieth century. Before 1947, modern textiles were only the composite textile mills having spinning and weaving facilities. Added later were activities like specialized textile weaving, knitting and hosiery, and dyeing-printing-finishing. At Partition of 1947, there were about 11 composite textile mills in East Pakistan with 1.1million spindles and 2.7 thousand looms. Spindles grew to 3.2 millions in 1956but declined to 0.8 million in 1972 as worn-out obsolete spindles went out of operation. In 1972 large-scale manufacturing units including textile mills were nationalized. After 1982, state owned spinning mills were gradually denationalized. By 1999, spindles installed were 2.4 million in the private sector as compared to 0.4 million in the public sector.
Most spinning mills of Bangladesh produce low-grade yarn. The existing capacity is not enough to produce good quality combed yarn and polyester/cotton blended yarn for meeting there requirement of garment industry. The products oft he spinning sub-sector are cotton yarn of different counts, polyester,synthetic yarn, woolen yarn and blended yarn mixed of cotton and polyester.Yarns are being used by the weaving sub-sectors like specialized textiles,hand looms, and knitting and hosiery. In 1999, yarn production of 112 million kg satisfied only 22% of total yarn requirement of the country. The growth of mill weaving loom age capacity was slow (2% annually) during 1947-56 but was faster(4.6% annually) during 1957-72. Like the spinning mills, the weaving mills with6.8 thousand looms, which were in composite mills, were also nationalized in1972. Loom age capacity was more or less the same until 1983 when privatization of nationalized mills was undertaken. Loom age capacity reduced to 3.9 thousands in 1999 from 6.3 thousands in 1983 as the old obsolete looms went out of operation.
The products of modern weaving are cotton fabrics used as sari, dhoti, lungi, blouse,shirting, drill, long cloth, poplin, saloon, Grey marlin, etc.These fabrics are woven in narrow strips and in addition, they can not be used in the garments industry because of their low quality. In 1999, fabric production of 25 million meters cannot even meet 1% of the domestic fabric requirement. The specialized textiles sub-sector, loom age capacity of which varies from 10 to 50, started in mid-seventies. In 1976, it had 800 looms with annual production capacity of 15.6 million meters of fabrics. Its loom age capacity rose to 3,500 in 1983 indicating a 23% annual growth rate. Its yearly growth rate was slower (about 16.5% annually) during 1983-99. Fabrics produced in this sub-sector are mostly cotton, polyester and cotton-polyester blended types. Main products are nylon saris, household linens, curtains, shirting,suiting, nets, pocketing fabrics, velvet cloth and fabrics for draperies.
Knitting and hosiery units catered to the domestic need with 3,000 machines in 1952 and 1,562 machines in 1976. Only after the 1980's, the products of this sub-sector gained access to export market. The annual growth of machine capacity satisfying domestic market was about 5.3% for the period 1976-83 and only 2.1% for the period 1983-99. In this period, 1,390 circular knitting machines were added to the capacity to satisfy the export demand. However, the situation on the knitting side looks better than in weaving. The main products of this sub-sector are vests, underwear, T-shirts, polo shirts, ladies undergarments, socks, mufflers and sweaters. During 1956-76, modern dyeing facilities were limited to composite mills and traditional hand-dyeing facilities to hand loom industry. Automatic and semi-automatic dyeing-printing-finishing facilities were set up in the private sector after 1976. The annual growth in the semi-automatic dyeing and finishing units was 17.4% during 1976-83 and only1.9% during 1983-99. It was 6.3 and 7.7% for automatic dyeing and finishing units for the two periods respectively. Manual dyeing still exists in the hand loom sub-sector.
The overall growth performance of modern textiles excepting the export-oriented garments industry has been very poor with only very limited investment taking place in weaving sub-sectors and relatively more new investment in the spinning sub-sector. Modern textiles have developed in haphazard and footloose manner with little balancing among spinning, weaving,and dyeing-printing-finishing sub-sectors. Most mills are unbalanced with their own structures, and suffer from technological and production shortcomings. Over the years the links between the downstream textiles and garments sub-sector remained weak. Bangladesh entered into export market of ready made garments (RMG) in 1977. Exports of RMG grew at a very fast rate during the last two decades. But this growth has not been supported by a growth of the backward linkage facilities. The RMG industry has to depend upon imports for 85% of fabrics and 40% of yarn required for this expanding export market.
As of 1999, the textile sector of Bangladesh may be characterized by the following facts: there were 2.8 million spindles with an annual production capacity of 200 million kg of thread; the total number of looms were 3,900;1,200 in private sector and 2,700 in public sector and the annual production capacity was 66.9 million meters of cloth. All the specialized textile mills were in the private sector and they had 40,500 looms producing annually 69million meters of cloth. The number of body machines/circular machines in knitting and hosiery sector was 8,884, of which 5,753 operated for export market. There were 250 dyeing and finishing units - 175 semi-automatic and 75automatic and the number of export oriented RMG manufacturing units was 2,650having an annual production capacity of 1,8 billion pieces.
The total demand-supply gaps of fabric and yarn for 1996-97 were 2,433million meters and 429 million kg respectively. These gaps would increase to3,717 million meters and 639 million kg respectively by 2002. This speaks of this textile sector as an important area for potential investments. The investment in this sector is also attractive because of low wage ($40-70dollar) per month, and relatively low cost of infrastructure required for setting up textile mills. In an international environment cost of capital and labor in HongKong, Korea,Singapore and Taiwan etc are rapidly increasing. The government policy also encourages private investment, especially foreign investment in the textile sector by allowing special facilities such as (a) tax holiday for five, seven, nine and twelve years for industries set up in the developed, less developed, least developed, and special economic zones respectively, (b) tax exemption on royalties, technical know-how and technical fees, (c) tax exemption on interest on foreign loans, (d) tax exemption on capital gains, (e) avoidance of double taxation, (f) exemption of income tax for foreign technicians for a period of up to 3 years; (g) remittance up to 50% of the salary of the foreign underemployed in Bangladesh, (h) facilities for repatriation of invested capital,profits, and dividends abroad, and (i) provision for treating reinvestment of repatriate dividend as new foreign investment.
Bangladeshis a member of the World Trade Organization and its exports of RMG products are benefiting from the Most Favored Nation status including the post-Uruguay Round tariff rates and reductions in them made by all major developed nations. Bangladesh is afavoured partner in the Generalized System of Preferences of the EU. It is alsoa signatory to the Uruguay Round Agreement on Textiles and Clothing. It concluded bilateral Multifibre Agreement (MFA) on trade of textiles and clothing with Canada, EU and USA.MFA restrictions on textiles and apparel trade will be withdrawn in phases by2005 creating a more competitive environment when access to export market will not be as assured as under the current quota system.