At a time agriculture was the main sector of the country's economy and tea and jute were the main export items. Things have changed in the last 20-25 years and Bangladesh has switched to second gear from agricultural sector to manufacturing sector. Tea or jute is no more the main export- readymade garments (RMG) has replaced them. About 3.0 million people are directly related while another 20 million people are indirectly involved in the RMG sector. According to a World Trade Organisation (WTO) report, Bangladesh ranked fourth in global apparel exports in 2007. In that same year the country exported more than $10 billion of apparel.
Undoubtedly, the garments industry has had a significant impact in the economy and image of Bangladesh. The garments industry is one of the two major foreign exchange generating sources, the other being remittance from expatriates. The garments industry is providing employment to a huge number of people especially women who account for 90 per cent of the work force in this industry. Due to conservative norms and values that exist in the country, women are not able to work in all kinds of industries. The RMG has provided an excellent opportunity for them to get employment, bringing a significant change in the demographics of the work force of the country. In that way a major social change has been brought by this industry. The employment opportunities in this sector are encouraging farmers in rural areas to discontinue farming and join the garments industry. Women are leaving their employment in the informal sector where they mostly worked as housemaids. Many will argue that the living standards of the labourers are still below par, but one has to agree that they are at least living a better life than they used to live before.
The success in this industry is creating entrepreneurs as well. Many among the young generation would have otherwise gone abroad, but this industry has ushered in a hope among them to stay in the country...
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