The shift from a rural/agro based economy to an urban/industrial economy is an essential part of the process of economic development. Although policymakers in the least developed countries (LDCs) have, at various times, attempted to make agriculture the primary engine of economic growth and employment generation, this approach has not worked, not least because of the contributions of the Green Revolution, which has had the dual effect of increasing agricultural productivity in the LDCs and displacing the rural labor force at the same time. Led by the example of the East Asian economies, most LDCs now accept the need for greater industrialization as the fastest path to economic growth. In particular, countries such as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea have demonstrated that an export-oriented industrial strategy can not only raise per capita income and living standards in a relatively short time; it can also play a vital role in modernizing the economy and integrating it with the global economic system. Bangladesh, one of the representatives of LDCs, has also been following the same direction for the last 25 years. New rules had come to govern the international trade in textiles and apparel, allowing low-cost suppliers to gain a grasp in American and European markets. Assisted by foreign partners, and largely unaided by the government, entrepreneurs seized the opportunity and exploited it to the fullest. Over a period of 25 years, the garments export sector has grown into a $6 billion industry that employs over a million people. In the process, it has boosted the overall economic growth of the country and raised the viability of other export-oriented sectors.
Several authors have analyzed aspects of the garment industry in Bangladesh. Of the various aspects of the industry, the problems and the working conditions of female workers have received the greatest attention. A study by Md. Salim Uddin and Mohammed Abu Jahed (2007) revealed that how the RMG sector is contributing as prime mover of the socio economic development of Bangladesh. According to them, the garments industry has been leading the Bangladesh economy since the early 1990s. Garments are the country’s biggest export making up about three quarters of total exports, and the industry is a symbol of the country’s dynamism in the world economy. The industry is also the main non-farm formal sector creating employment opportunities for the poor. The greater part of the workforce is female, less educated, and has migrated from rural areas. Thus, the garment industry is seen as contributing to poverty reduction in Bangladesh by providing employment opportunities with higher wages for the poor who would otherwise be engaged in low-wage economic activities in rural areas. There was much discussion about the survival of Bangladesh’s garment industry prior to the final phase out of the Multi-Fiber Agreement (MFA) from 1 January 2005 which was expected to greatly intensify competition in the international garment market. One of the most influential forecasts was that only China and India would gain from the MFA phase out and that Bangladesh and other smaller suppliers of garments would lose out. Fortunately, there was no immediate major adverse effect in Bangladesh. Garment exports to the United States grew over the whole of 2005, while those to EU declined only slightly. However, the prospects for the industry in Bangladesh are not certain and the future trend in garment exports needs to be watched.
Dr. Greg gajewski & Alex Riley (2005) discussed about Bangladesh’s export trade practices and their effect on the competitiveness of the garment industry. They said, a wide body of evidence suggests that increased openness to trade and greater export competitiveness contribute to higher rates of economic growth. Export competitiveness depends, in part, on Customs and other administrative export trade practices, as well as on the efficiency of...