Today, the textile industry of Bangladesh can be divided into the three main categories: the public sector, handloom sector, and the organized private sector. Each of these sectors has its advantages and disadvantages. Currently, the organized private sector dominates, and is also expanding at the fastest rate. Public Sector
The public sector is that portion of the industry controlled by organizations that are part of the government. The factories in the public sector enjoy certain privileges such as government funding. However, in Bangladesh, factories in the public sector are not well supervised. There are frequent changes in officers, and many of these officials do not have a personal interest in the factory for which they are responsible. In addition, the equipment in this sector is not well maintained, as much of the money allocated for this purpose is not spent as planned, but is wasted through corruption and poor accounting.
The rural group of textile producers includes operators of handlooms and a number of organizations which employ rural women, such as BRAC, or the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee. The Handloom industry provides employment for a large segment of the population of Bangladesh. The industry also supplies a large portion of the fabric required by the local market. Factories in this sector are usually well looked after by the owners and are quite productive, considering the equipment available. However, the inferiority of their machinery, mostly due to their narrow width, means that the fabric production is slow, and usually falls short of the quality needed for export.
The most productive of the three categories is the private sector. This, as the term suggests, is made up of those factories owned by companies or entrepreneurs. Since the owners of such factories are directly affected by their performance, they take an active part in planning, decision making, and management. Most of these factories also have machinery that is superior to those in the two other sectors because the owners are well aware of the connection between their equipment and their profits.
The Textile Industry of Bangladesh
Textiles have been an extremely important part of Bangladesh's economy for a very long time for a number of reasons. The textile industry is concerned with meeting the demand for clothing, which is a basic necessity of life. It is an industry that is more labor intensive than any other in Bangladesh, and thus plays a critical role in providing employment for people. Currently, the textile industry accounts for 45% of all industrial employment in the country and contributes 5% of the total national income.
However, although the industry is one of the largest in Bangladesh and is still expanding, it faces serious problems, principally because the country does not produce enough of the raw materials necessary, unfavorable trade policies, and inadequate incentives for expansion. As a result, Bangladesh's textile industry relies heavily on imports, and the country does not earn as much foreign exchange from its textile industry as it should.
History of the Textile Industry in Bangladesh
Traditionally, artisans working in small groups, in what are often referred to as cottage industries, produced most of the textile in the sub-continent. There were many such artisans in the area that was to become Bangladesh. In fact, from prehistoric times until the Industrial Revolution in the eighteenth century, East Bengal was self-sufficient in textiles. Its people produced Muslin, Jamdani, and various cotton and silk fabrics. These were all well regarded even beyond the region as they were manufactured by very skilled craftsmen.
The material produced by the artisans of Bengal started facing vigorous competition beginning in the eighteenth century after the...