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Speech for Hon’ble Foreign Minister as the Special Guest of the “Dhaka Apparel Summit 2017”

Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
My distinguished Cabinet colleagues and Members of Parliament,
H.E. Mr. Pierre Mayaudon, Ambassador and Head of EU Delegation in Bangladesh,
Excellencies,
President of BGMEA,
Ladies and Gentlemen

Assalamu Alaikum, Adab and good morning to you all!

I am delighted to join you all at the opening of the Second ‘Dhaka Apparel Summit'. I am happy to see so many industry experts, partners, and stakeholders from home and abroad joining the Summit. Thank you, BGMEA, for organizing this Summit two years after its first edition as the industry is on a quiet transformation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The overarching theme of the Summit aims to set future priorities and formulate strategies for a sustainable apparel industry - through dialogue, inclusion, participation, sharing of knowledge and exchange of ideas among the participants.

Under the visionary and determined leadership of the daughter of Bangabandhu, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, as Bangladesh moves towards becoming a Middle Income Country by 2021 and an advanced one by 2041, the industry stands as an ambitious and confident pillar in that growth story.

Distinguished Guests,

For a number of reasons and circumstances, even being the Foreign Minister, quite often I and my Ministry are drawn into conversations on issues related to Apparel and other manufacturing sectors. From that vantage point, a few perspectives should merit our careful reflection:

First, how would we understand and approach ‘people’ involved across the whole industry. Hon. Prime Minister was at the World Economic Forum in Davos a month back. We recognized, in a fast-changing ‘world of work’, the workers and entrepreneurs – EVERYONE – would need to fully understand and carefully exercise respective roles and responsibilities. Just not about securing safety at workplace, but also about ensuring dignity and well-being at work. Everyone – workers and employers alike – need to get overall industrial relations right and harmonious.

Second, how do we understand and put ‘sustainability’ issues in practice across the entire supply chain. I am so happy to hear that a further 300 plus factories are coming up with LEED certification. It is a commendable transformation. ‘Sustainability’ issues are much wider: it starts with ‘greening’ factory premises, but it is also about the entire chain. There, consumers – buyers – producers ‘ALL’ have to appreciate in tandem that focusing on just one pillar while not paying attention to others will make the process unsustainable.

Third, when so many entrepreneurs are making changes from the front bucking the trends and with so much of risks and uncertainty, market must respond by getting ‘pricing’ right and commensurate – not out of any degree of empathy, rather to respond to get the ‘economics’ right! As OECD, G7 and UN are emphasizing: we must bring ‘Responsible Business Conduct’ right, in full. This is also a key element of emerging global narrative and initiatives like Global Deal. Surely, our friends from Brands and Buyers are listening.

Fourth, and finally, there will obviously be ‘tensions’ and ‘differences’ of positions and views in ‘manufacturing’ or ‘work’ in a labour-intensive industry like Apparel industry. History of development should tell us: a populous and young country like Bangladesh is no exception. From the side of the State, I can tell all our friends that Bangladesh is a state and people who have grown up with the firm belief in openness, freedom, equality, inclusion, pluralism. We have in Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a leader who embodies and continues to champion the noble principles of Bangladesh’s Statehood. That is why, Bangladesh also engaged with the industry to make the entire industry compliant, caring and competitive. This is being eminently vindicated by the way we engaged with partners across Brussels, Washington, Geneva and others in the ‘Bangladesh Sustainability Compact’ during the last four years.

Let me assure all our friends: Bangladesh is a place to do business. We are open for dialogue and conversation – with any and everyone ‘who counts’ – be it governments, manufacturers, workers, entrepreneurs.

Let us keep moving in mutual trust and respect – so that we can secure ‘shared prosperity’ through ‘shared partnership’ for ‘shared benefits’.

We all must act with ‘responsibility’. Leaving any side or anyone behind is not in the interest of any other.

I wish the ‘Dhaka Apparel Summit 2017’ a great success.

I thank you all.

Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu.

Media Type: 
Publish Date: 
Saturday, February 25, 2017